Published On: Thu, Jun 24th, 2021

Florida Judge Blocks Biden’s Debt Relief Program for Non-White Farmers

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A federal judge in Florida temporarily halted the White House’s $4 billion debt relief program that targeted farmers on the basis of race, saying Wednesday that it was discriminatory. U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled in favor of Florida-based farmer Scott Wynn, who is white, and who filed a lawsuit to block the program in May. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented the program as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that sought to distribute funding to “socially disadvantaged farmers.” The rule’s “rigid, categorical, race-based qualification for relief is the antithesis of flexibility,” Howard wrote (pdf) Wednesday. “The debt relief provision applies strictly on racial grounds irrespective of any other factor.” The USDA program could continue to provide funds in the meantime as the court attempts to determine what provisions should be considered unconstitutional, the judge said. Howard also noted that some minority farmers have …

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