Lawsuit targets USDA’s race-based loan forgiveness scheme
May 18, 2021
Jacksonville, Florida; May 18, 2021: A farmer filed a lawsuit today, challenging unequal treatment based on race in the Department of Agriculture’s farm loan forgiveness program. A provision of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides loan forgiveness of up to 120 percent of the loan amount for some farmers and ranchers, but white farmers aren’t allowed to participate in the program.
Scott Wynn owns a farm in northern Florida where he raises cattle. Like many other farmers, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Mr. Wynn, and he had to discontinue farming sweet potatoes. Although he has a federal farm loan, he cannot qualify for loan forgiveness because he is white.
“The government can’t distribute benefits and burdens solely based on the color of their skin,” said Wen Fa, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Granting or denying farmers loan forgiveness based on their race violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court has said repeatedly that government cannot use race as a factor, except in narrow cases of remedying past discrimination.”
Pacific Legal Foundation represents Scott Wynn free of charge. Wynn’s lawsuit, Wynn v. Vilsack, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.