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Black Farmers File Intervention in Texas Debt Relief Lawsuit

Farmer
A farmer operates his hay bailer at his farm in Boydton, Va., on May 27, 2021. (Photo: AP)

Black farmers are poised to lose their land, farms, and living following a temporary order halting a surmised $4 billion in debt relief passed by Congress, which is a component of the American Rescue Act. This is following decades of long-winded racism in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) loan programs. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Public Counsel, and pro bono counsel Winston & Strawn LLP today filed to intervene on behalf of the Land Assistance Fund (the Federation)/Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Such a proposition was filed in the US District Court for Texas’Northern District in Miller v. Vilsack.

Black Farmers File for Intervention in Texas Court

US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. (Photo: Ritz Herald)

Stalled $5 Billion Debt Relief Program

The Texas federal court bout has hampered a $5 billion debt relief program for Black farmers. The proposition to jump into the lawsuit involves declarations from six farmers claiming discrimination from the Agriculture Department and Farm Service Agency loan programs. Such farmers content that debt relief is the main component to the endurance of their businesses. They added that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his Justice Department lawyers are not reliable to defend the debt relief program as ardently as the Black farmers federation will.

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USDA’s Discrimination of Farmers of Color

Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan was designated to offer debt relief to Black farmers and other farmers of color who have been at the mercy of the USDA’s harmful discrimination. The USDA’s long-chronicled and acknowledged racist measures of stalling and refusing loans alleviated Black farmers from taking on prosperous farm businesses. This has prompted the continuance of the humiliating legacy of Black land loss in the US and foreclosures.

Lawsuit From Texas White Farmers Against USDA

In Miller v. Vilsack, five white farmers from Texas filed a lawsuit against the USDA. They claimed that loan forgiveness payments contravene the Constitution of the United States. This case is one of the numerous lawsuits underway involving Section 1005 in other jurisdictions wherein a federal court released a preliminary ruling against the program, reported WECT News 6.

Background

The lawsuit Miller v. Vilsack was initially filed by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. He contended the program discriminates against white farmers on unconstitutional grounds. This was supported by an organization spearheaded by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller. It came around one month following the passage of the debt relief by Congress in the COVID-19 relief package in March, reported Politico.

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