How do you fight racism in farming? A group behind a lawsuit has an idea of how you don’t.
As covered by RedState’s Mike Miller last month, amid a COVID relief bill signed by President Biden, Congress included the allocation of “billions of dollars in debt relief and other assistance” to farmers who aren’t white.
At the time, Tennessee farmer Kelly Griggs — who runs an 1,800-acre business in Humboldt — was quoted thusly:
“Just because you’re a certain color, you don’t have to pay back money? I don’t care if you’re purple, black, yellow, white, gray, if you borrow money, you have to pay it back.”
She added, “My reaction is, where did common sense go? We can’t strike. We can’t stop. That’s the part that really [stinks]. These people in Washington who make decisions for us and our livelihood have probably never stepped foot on a real farm.”
Apparently, some others have a similarly negative attitude toward those people.
Hence, they’re suing.
As reported by the Courthouse News Service, Republican Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller filed suit against the Biden administration Monday.
The action — courtesy of America’s First Legal Foundation — claims the Department of Agriculture’s withholding of funds solely due to farmers’ race goes against the U.S. Constitution.
Furthermore, the suit says, it violates Title VI of 1964’s Civil Rights Act.
The Biden program, proponents appear to believe, fights systemic racism.
The complaint has a different take:
[T]he way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
More from Courthouse News:
The lawsuit says the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed by Congress last month includes provisions for the forgiveness of loans to “socially disadvantaged” farmers or ranchers of up to 120% of the value of the loan. It claims other federal laws limit help for white farmers and ranchers, including the Agriculture Department being required to give preference to grant applications filed by “socially disadvantaged” farmers or ranchers.
According to Commissioner Sid, the Agriculture Department’s defined “socially disadvantaged farmer and rancher” to mean Americans who are black, American Indian, “Alaskan Natives,” Asians, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders.
His opinion: It stinks.
“[The definition] departs from the plain statutory text by failing to include white ethnic groups that have unquestionably suffered” prejudice because of their ethnicity.”
Per the suit, white people can be disadvantaged, too:
Indeed, throughout American history, many white ethnic groups have been subject to “racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities,” including Irish, Italians, Germans, Jews and eastern Europeans. Members of these ethnic groups unambiguously qualify as members of a “socially disadvantaged group,” and as “socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers,” under the plain text…
It’s an unprecedented time concerning race in America.
As I relayed previously, at the University of California at Berkeley, they’re hiring a Wellness and Environmental Justice Coordinator.
The position, so far as I can tell, substantially involves leading opportunities for all students except those who are straight and white:
Centering under-served and historically marginalized populations on campus, this position will execute programming* (climate healing circles, wellness collaboration days with Berkeley Free Clinic and Tang, and planned meet-ups with Bay Area QT+ and BIPOC climate activists) that will support SERC BIPOC (Student Environmental Resource Center Black, Indigenous and People Of Color), Students of Color Environmental Collective (SCEC), and CNR Students of Color. Simultaneously, the position will reinvigorate SERC QTies and create QTies for Climate Justice, a student organization focused on the empowerment and wellbeing of Queer and Trans community members that are engaged in environmentalism. Outdoor education through camping and backpacking trips will be provided to these communities and will create space/opportunities for BIPOC and QT+ populations to reconnect with their communities through healing activities/reconnection with nature. These projects will be focused on empowering both undergraduates and graduates that are most vulnerable to the impending climate crisis and impacting the broader campus community through coalition building and resource sharing with similar groups across campus and in our surrounding communities.
Back to the farming filing, if a trial court doesn’t reverse the no-whites stipulation, the suit wants “socially disadvantaged” redefined to include — in the words of Courthouse News — “white ethnic groups who have suffered past discrimination or interpreted to include people ‘who have any discernible trace’ of non-white ancestry.”
Society’s certainly changing. And whatever else some may say about it, one thing’s hard to deny: The world’s getting progressively more complicated.
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