AUSTIN, TX – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced Friday the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has issued a temporary restraining order against the Biden Administration, temporarily ceasing payments under a new U.S. Department of Agriculture loan forgiveness program exclusively for minority agriculture producers. In April, Miller had also sued the federal government on this program in the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth but that court has not yet ruled.
“This is a big win for the U.S. Constitution and a return to fundamental American ideal that all men are created equal,” said Miller. “This is a clear signal that the Biden Administration has to stop picking winners and losers and stoking racial tensions, especially in the agriculture sector. American agriculture is too important to our country and the world to have it used as a political tool by this administration.”
In March, the USDA announced it would release some $4 billion of the American Rescue Plan Act exclusively for “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.” The Department of Agriculture interprets this phrase to include African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaskan natives, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders. White farmers and ranchers are not included in the department’s definition. Under the plan, up to 120% of the outstanding loan debt of farmers of color would be paid off, including payment of any tax indebtedness related to the loans.
In April, Miller engaged the America First Legal Foundation in his private capacity as a farmer and rancher to file the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on the grounds that it violated the foundations of fairness guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
With the ruling from the Wisconsin court, the USDA must actually halt issuing checks to applicants based on race, but the program can continue. However, a ruling from Miller's lawsuit before the federal court here in Texas is imminent and if the injunction is granted it will provide a more permanent halt to the USDA program.