WASHINGTON – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that it has provided nearly $800 million from the $3.1 billion in assistance for distressed farm loan borrowers through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
“The USDA’s recent actions to expedite debt relief for distressed farm loan borrowers is an important first step toward alleviating the economic pain suffered by the most marginalized farmers, who are disproportionately Black farmers and other farmers of color,” said Damon Hewitt, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee.
The Lawyers’ Committee and The Federation recently shared recommendations with the USDA designed to ensure that the planned relief and reforms under the IRA reach Black farmers, who have historically experienced discrimination by the USDA.
Previously, the Lawyers’ Committee represented The Federation as a defendant-intervenor in Miller v. Vilsack, a lawsuit in which white farmers sued to block the more targeted and fulsome form of debt relief promised to Black farmers and other farmers of color in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill designed to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously ruled in favor of intervention by the Federation in Miller.
Although the Miller case was later dismissed on mootness grounds as a result of the repeal of Section 1005 by the IRA, the Lawyers’ Committee and The Federation remain committed to ensuring that Black farmers and other farmers of color receive the relief they need and deserve. The Lawyers’ Committee and the Federation look forward to working together to advance equal opportunity in the implementation of the relevant provisions of the IRA.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org