Shocking Claims: How USDA’s Aid Policy Is Allegedly Discriminating Against White Farmers

Kitreel /
Kitreel /

In an episode that could easily be mistaken for a plotline in a satirical comedy about America’s legal and agricultural drama, a group of White farmers in Texas has decided that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) attempt to sprinkle a little diversity and equity on its disaster and pandemic aid is a step too far.

As reported by Just the News, these farmers, armed with the legal prowess of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, marched into the U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, this past Monday. Their mission? To challenge the audacity of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for considering race, gender, and other ‘arbitrary’ physical attributes in its aid distribution, invoking the sacred texts of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act as their shields.

In their legal motion, the coalition rightly argued, “Disasters do not select their victims based on race or gender, and neither should the Department of Agriculture.”

The proponents of the lawsuit argue that the USDA should not use race, gender, or other similar factors when managing aid programs. They justify their stance by citing three main reasons:

  1. They argue that the current management of these programs is unconstitutional, which makes their lawsuit more likely to succeed.
  2. They claim that the USDA lacks legal authority to operate these programs in their current form.
  3. They contend that the USDA has failed to adequately justify its method of adjusting payments by introducing progressive factoring.

These aid programs are designed to help farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters, price fluctuations, or other adverse conditions. Critics of the current management of these programs argue that the use of race, gender, or other similar factors in distributing aid is discriminatory. The farmers argue that aid should be distributed solely based on the needs and merits of the individual applicants. The plaintiffs argue that halting the USDA from using any such criteria will guarantee fair and equitable distribution of aid.

The coalition highlighted that the Biden Administration has redirected at least $25 billion in aid for disaster relief and pandemic support into eight specific programs to assist “socially disadvantaged” groups. The lawsuit points out that these provisions violate both the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act. The coalition emphasizes that the Constitution guarantees equal treatment for all Americans, irrespective of race or gender, and upholds the principle of separation of powers.

The lawsuit alleges that “USDA broke both promises through the disaster and pandemic relief programs challenged here.” Moreover, the group insists they have evidence to show the USDA’s biased financial distribution based on race, gender, and other non-merit-based criteria.

Referencing recent Supreme Court rulings that struck down affirmative action and similar race-based preferences in higher education, the lawsuit quotes the majority opinion from those cases, asserting that “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”

The legal challenge is directed against the USDA and its Secretary, Tom Vilsack, targeting an aid scheme initiated by an executive order from President Joe Biden.

The irony is that in 2022, Biden issued an executive order instructing the USDA to establish a 15-member independent equity commission to rectify discrimination in its policies. The intent was to help black farmers.

In July 2023, the Inflation Reduction Act, part of Biden’s commitment to addressing historical injustices, includes $5.3 billion to offer relief to tens of thousands of farmers nationwide. Of the allocated funds, $3.1 billion will be used to assist distressed borrowers in paying off their farm debts without losing their land or becoming ineligible for future assistance—an additional $2.2 billion to help Black farmers who have endured discrimination through USDA farm programs.

Now, white farmers feel they have been marginalized and that the USDA, instead of being neutral and delivering aid to those who need it, has become biased to the extent that they believe the lawsuit is necessary to correct the issue.