MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Farmers are suing the federal government alleging they’re ineligible for a COVID-19 stimulus loan forgiveness program because they’re white.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the unconstitutional race discrimination in the American Rescue Plan’s provision to offer loan forgiveness based on racial categories. WILL filed the lawsuit Thursday, April 30 in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on behalf of five plaintiffs from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio. Each plaintiff would be eligible for the federal loan forgiveness program, but for their race.
According to the lawsuit, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 stimulus plan provides $4 billion to forgive loans for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who are Black, American Indian, Hispanic, Alaskan native, Asian American or Pacific Islander.
White farmers aren’t eligible, amounting to a violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, the lawsuit contends.
“Were plaintiffs eligible for the loan forgiveness benefit, they would have the opportunity to make additional investments in their property, expand their farms, purchase equipment and supplies and otherwise support their families and local communities,” the lawsuit said. “Because plaintiffs are ineligible to even apply for the program solely due to their race, they have been denied the equal protection of the law and therefore suffered harm.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said in a statement that the agency is reviewing the lawsuit, but the agency plans to continue to offer loan forgiveness to “socially disadvantaged” farmers.
Agricultural provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 appropriate an estimated $10.4 billion