United States Department of Agriculture Invests $1.4 Billion to Strengthen the Economy in Rural America

On Wednesday, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the department is investing $1.4 billion to help a diverse rural America keep resources and wealth right at home through job training, business expansion, and technical assistance.

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USDA Announces Racial Preferences in New ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ Funding

This week’s Golden Horseshoe goes to the USDA for $50 million in “climate smart agriculture” grants the department will award preferentially in the name of “racial equity and justice” to “socially disadvantaged” racial and ethnic classes of farmers and ranchers, as well as to “historically underserved producers.”

Despite a recent court ruling against the department for a race-based loan forgiveness program, the USDA posted notice on Aug. 25 of a funding opportunity for a new program involving such preferences, Conservation Outreach: Racial Equity and Justice Conservation Cooperative Agreements.”

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Biden Administration Hasn’t Responded to Court Injunctions on Loan Forgiveness Excluding White Farmers

Man in a blue shirt standing in a cornfield.

The White House hasn’t addressed the court-ordered injunctions against President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness program that excludes white farmers.  The latest ruling came late last week through a Tennessee farmer’s challenge to the program’s alleged racial discrimination. United States District Judge Thomas Anderson agreed with the Tennessee farmer’s take on the program’s discriminatory practices, ruling the program unconstitutional and issuing a nationwide injunction to halt it on Thursday in the case, Holman v. Vilsack et al. Another federal judge in Wisconsin issued a similar ruling last month, and a little over two weeks ago a federal judge in a similar Florida case offered a concurring ruling. 

The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) and Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) brought the case with the latest ruling on behalf of Tennessee farmer Rob Holman. According to the Biden Administration’s loan forgiveness program in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Holman was ineligible for forgiveness on his farm loans solely because he’s white. According to the law, only “socially disadvantaged groups” were eligible for the program granting up to 120 percent of loan forgiveness, re-application for government backed loans, and a cash gift of 20 percent of the loan’s value to cover any income tax liability. Socially disadvantaged groups were defined as those with members who faced racial or ethnic prejudice.

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