Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) has filed a formal comment regarding the implementation of a new federal spending program for farmers and ranchers. Known as Section 22007, the Department of Agriculture is to provide payments using third party entities to farmers and ranchers who were victims of discrimination in farm lending programs. SLF urged the Department of Agriculture spends the $2.2 billion dollars allocated by Congress in a constitutional manner.
Under the newly enacted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Congress set aside an extraordinary amount of funds ($2.2 billion) to award to farmers and ranchers who were victims of actual discrimination in the Department of Agriculture’s farm lending programs. The IRA repealed and replaced a similar program enacted in 2021 that paid off the loans to farmers and ranchers based on their race or ethnicity. After SLF succeeded in halting the program, the Department changed tact with Section 22007, now awarding funds to those it judges to have experienced discrimination in its farm lending programs.
Section 22007 contains an eyebrow raising provision. It requires the Department select third-party entities to award the $2.2 billion dollars. The Department has invited public comments on the implementation of this program.
In its comments, SLF urged the Department to make sure that any outside party is not allowed to exercise governmental power by deciding how to spend public dollars and upon whom. SLF urged high standards of transparency and ethics out of the entities selected. Also, SLF urged the Department to not use Section 22007 as an excuse to institute another race-based benefit program.