A federal judge Thursday afternoon suspended a loan forgiveness program that issues relief to farmers and agricultural workers of color.
Judge William Griesbach of Wisconsin’s Eastern District handed down a temporary restraining order after the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in April. The group alleged in its announcement that President Joe Biden’s relief program was unconstitutional and that white farmers should have been included in the loan program.
“The Court recognized that the federal government’s plan to condition and allocate benefits on the basis of race raises grave constitutional concerns and threatens our clients with irreparable harm, said Rick Esenberg, WILL’s president and general counsel, in a press release Thursday. “The Biden administration is radically undermining bedrock principles of equality under the law.”
The group is representing 12 famers across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Oregon, Kentucky and South Dakota, according to its press release.
“There should absolutely be no federal dollars going anywhere just based on race,” Adam Faust, one of two Wisconsin farmers involved in the suit, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
WILL’s suit specifically asked that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux not consider race when issuing the relief. The $4 billion in loan relief was passed in March as part of Biden’s coronavirus relief package, with the state goal of undoing systemic racism within the agriculture industry.