please find a press statement on the Temporary Restraining Order issued by a federal judge in Green Bay, WI to stop USDA from making debt relief payments to BIPOC farmers and ranchers.
We urge all organizations to sign on – we will officially release this statement tomorrow around 9 AM adding all who have signed on by then, and again on Monday with additional signatories.
We urge you to reach out to other organizations who may be willing to add their names.
Stay tuned as we will be working next week on responses to the three courts all trying now to halt this aid.
For further information, contact: Intertribal Agriculture Council, Colby Duren, firstname.lastname@example.org (406) 259-3525, Rural Coalition, John Zippert, email@example.com or Lorette Picciano, firstname.lastname@example.org (202-628-7161) or North Carolina Association of Black Farmers, email@example.com (919) 682-5969.
Organizations Deplore Temporary Restraining Order Stopping Relief for Black, Indigenous and People of Color Farmers and Ranchers
We, the undersigned, are organizations whose service constituency is composed of Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and Asian, and Pacific Islander family farmers. With our allied farm and environmental organizational signatories, we jointly deplore the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan Act, to assist BIPOC farmers in paying off their Farm Service Agency direct or guaranteed loans.
The underlying case, and related cases, reflect a flagrant attempt to overturn an act of Congress and the over 30 years of history of a definition that acknowledges and enables USDA to meet the urgent and particular needs of socially disadvantaged producers. During this pandemic, our producers have been unable to access the level of support and service provided to other groups of farmers and ranchers, and will be further harmed by this relief being delayed.
We see these lawsuits as undemocratic actions designed only to frustrate and defeat the justice long denied to BIPOC farmers and ranchers and their communities. Many of the undersigned have worked for decades to assist tens of thousands of producers who have endured decades of disparate and discriminatory treatment by the USDA with huge barriers to relief–situations that continue today. This includes establishing a definition and provisions providing targeted USDA program resources in credit, conservation, marketing, cooperative development and other services for these socially disadvantaged farmer applicants–all which have been included, without legal challenge, in Farm Bills over the past 30 plus years.
Congress took into account this sad and sordid history when it consciously added Sections 1005 and 1006 of the American Rescue Plan. These sections targeted assistance to help BIPOC farmers to recover from more than a year of calamitous and disruptive conditions in producing and marketing of agricultural products.
No serious observer of USDA’s role in American agriculture can doubt that the Department has engaged in decades of intentional, and systematic, discrimination based on race and ethnicity. The results have been catastrophic and have completely reshaped farming by eliminating a wide swath of farmers. If ever there was a constitutional basis for taking race into account when making policy this is it. In its decision the Court appears oblivious to this history, and hostile to efforts to achieve true racial justice.
We urge and support USDA to continue its vigorous defense of this critical relief and to assure the TRO does not prevent USDA from continuing to implement the eligibility and application process for this loan payment assistance, pending a favorable decision against a permanent injunction on this critically needed assistance for BIPOC farmers.
Our organizations further pledge to work to assure the intent of Congress is fulfilled and the rights of our producers are not extinguished.
We urge all other farmers and people of good will to educate themselves about this basic, fundamental, and continuing struggle for justice and equity by BIPOC farmers and their communities.
Intertribal Agriculture Council
Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund
North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project
Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecroppers FundOklahoma Black Historical Research Project