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Black Farmers Sue Federal Government Over Revised Debt Relief Program

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A group of Black farmers filed a lawsuit against the federal government for revising its $4 billion debt relief program to support Black farmers. Ultimately, the farmers say the government reneged on its deal.

The plaintiffs claim that the program was revised and dilated following backlash from white farmers.

President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) into law in August. However, he repealed Section 1005 of the ARPA–the section which specifically benefits farmers of color.

The Department of Agriculture issued a statement to Yahoo News following the announcement of the lawsuit.

“USDA strongly supported the ARPA Section 1005 program and was ready to make payments to direct-loan borrowers. However, the $5 billion that was intended to help farmers was frozen by three nationwide injunctions that prevented USDA from getting payments out the door. The government vigorously defended this program in the courts but because of these injunctions, the $5 billion provided in ARPA remained frozen. This litigation would likely have not been resolved for years,” Marissa Perry, Department of Agriculture press secretary, told Yahoo News.

In August, John W. Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association, released a statement condemning Biden for withdrawing his support for Black farmers. Two months later, a group of white American farmers sued the government for race-based discrimination. The group alleged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) loan forgiveness program for farmers of color violates the Constitution. Boyd believes the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (Section 22008) repeals the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Section 1005.)

The farmers are represented by Ben Crump.

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