Judge halts loan forgiveness program aimed at Black farmers

A federal judge in Florida cited racial discrimination in a ruling that halted the loan forgiveness program aimed at Black farmers that was part of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief package that forgave debts related to agriculture.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales said in her ruling that Congress should “do away with governmentally imposed discrimination based on race,” The Washington Post reported.

Howard said, “It appears that in adopting Section 1005’s strict race-based debt relief remedy Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care.”


The lawsuit was started by Scott Wynn, a White farmer who objected to the loan program being based on race.

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The judge said the Department of Agriculture could continue the plans on how the loan forgiveness program will be distributed while the constitutionality issues of the program are fixed.

The program was set to begin distributing the loan forgiveness in early June.

“For Black and minority farmers, the American Rescue Plan could represent one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation in decades,” Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE said. 

“That’s because deep within the law is a provision that responds to decades of systemic discrimination perpetrated against farmers and ranchers of color by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” he added.

Wynn said he filed the lawsuit because his income was hit by the pandemic and most of the money he has made has gone to paying federal farm loans, according to the Post. He believes he should be able to get loan forgiveness as well.

The program faced multiple lawsuits around the country and was already on hold from another case in Wisconsin.