Texas ag chief challenges USDA debt plan for disadvantaged farmers

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who also grows hemp and frequently promotes the crop, is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture over a $4 billion plan to help socially disadvantaged farmers through debt relief.

Miller says the plan is racist because white farmers aren’t eligible.

The debt-relief measure defines eligible farmers as anyone in “a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice.” The extra funds are meant to cover taxes from debt.

The lawsuit, filed in Fort Worth, contends that “Americans of all races and ethnicities must have the opportunity to receive” USDA loan forgiveness.

“These racial exclusions are patently unconstitutional,” Miller argues in the lawsuit.

Miller, who is seeking unspecified damages, is lead plaintiff in the case sponsored by the conservative America First Legal Foundation.

A USDA spokesman told Ag Insider that the agency “will continue to implement the debt relief to qualified socially disadvantaged borrowers” while reviewing the lawsuit.

The debt relief is part of a larger $1.9 trillion aid package signed into law March 11 by President Joe Biden.