The organization also included with the suit a preliminary injunction promised not to force the USDA to “withhold loan forgiveness from minority farmers and ranchers” but to require defendants to “award loan forgiveness to farmers and ranchers without any regard to race.” Problem is, the federal government tried the all-farmers-matter approach to subsidies, and Black farmers were repeatedly left out. Trump’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP), the largest subsidy source for farmers initiated to help farmers suffering as a result of the country’s trade war with China, has “almost exclusively benefitted white men and their families, who appear to be disproportionately upper middle-class or wealthy,” the journalism nonprofit The Counter wrote on July 29, 2019.
“As of today, USDA has distributed more than $8.5 billion to farm operations through the MFP. Of the approximately $8 billion distributed to operations whose owners’ race could be identified, 99.5 percent went to white business owners,” the nonprofit wrote.
Yet somehow, Stephen Miller is arguing it’s his organization launching the “landmark civil rights case.” He added in his statement:
“Farmers and ranchers cannot be excluded from government debt relief programs based solely on their race or ethnicity. This program is not only legally impermissible, it is virulently unconstitutional and morally reprehensible. The stakes in this case could not be higher: the government must not be allowed to use its awesome authorities to punish, harm, exclude, prefer, reward or damage its citizens based upon their race or ethnicity. Therefore, on behalf of its clients, AFL has today filed a motion for both a Preliminary Injunction and Class Certification. The remedy we seek is straightforward: we want these unconstitutional racial exclusions enjoined for a class of all farmers currently excluded from such programs. Everyone should be treated equally under law as the Constitution requires. AFL will press onward every day in its fight to uphold civil rights and defeat institutional discrimination.”
A federal court ruled last month that ethnic and racial backgrounds can not be considered when determining who would receive aid intended to be prioritized for restauranteurs of color. Cornelius Blanding, executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, told NBC News he’s worried chopping federal programs for farmers of color would lead to cutting other federal programs intended for people of color. “We’re concerned. … You never know how it’s going to go,” Blanding said.
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said in a statement NBC News obtained that the federal government’s effort to help Black farmers comes after “decades of systemic discrimination and exclusion.” “Throughout the 20th century, Black farmers were denied the loans and subsidies available to white farmers, and untold generational wealth has been lost as a result,” Morial said.
In a historic class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Black farmers successfully laid out years of racial discrimination and settled with the government for more than $1 billion, which was followed by a related settlement earning claimants $1.2 billion in added funding. John Boyd, president of the Black Farmers Association and a fourth-generation farmer, helped lead the charge, he told Al Jazeera. “I called the USDA the last plantation,” Boyd said. “The way that they’ve treated Black farmers, we’ve been degraded and humiliated.”