Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about Christopher Baird, a dairy farmer near Ferryville in southwest Wisconsin. Mr. Baird is like many farmers; he has direct loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
The article reports:
But the dairy farmer isn’t entitled to a new FSA loan-forgiveness program provided as part of COVID-19 relief in the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, legislation touted Wednesday night by President Joe Biden in his address to Congress.
Baird is white. He joined four other white farmers Thursday in suing federal officials over being left out.
Only “socially disadvantaged” farmers may apply for some of the $4 billion in loan-forgiveness funds, which include direct payments to farmers of up to 20% of the value of the loan. Specifically, the law says those eligible must be “Black/African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islander.”
“There is a case for loan forgiveness for individuals,” Baird said, “but we shouldn’t be looking at the color of someone’s skin and saying, ‘This person needs more help or less help based on the color of their skin.’ That’s just wrong.”
Baird is among five white farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and South Dakota who are suing Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux, alleging racial discrimination and violation of their right to equal protection under the Constitution.
The other Wisconsin farmer who sued, Adam Faust, said the federal government shouldn’t provide taxpayer money “just based on race.”
Baird, Faust, and the three other farmers filed the lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin’s Eastern District.
The article concludes:
In short, the complaint says, the way “to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
The farmers suing the USDA argue that a program that excludes them is just more discrimination.
Faust owns a dairy farm near Chilton, in Calumet County. A double amputee, he milks about 70 cows and farms 200 acres for feed. Because he is white, Faust isn’t eligible for the loan-forgiveness program.
“There should absolutely be no federal dollars going anywhere just based on race,” Faust said. “The economic impact from COVID-19 didn’t hurt any race more than another as far as agriculture goes.”
Discrimination on the basis of race is wrong regardless of what race you choose to discriminate against. Hopefully this case will make its way to the Supreme Court where the law should be declared unconstitutional.