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Case Name Wynn v. Vilsack PB-FL-0022
Docket / Court 3:21-cv-00514-MMH-JRK ( M.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Challenges to minority benefits in Biden Administration American Rescue Plan
Case Summary
This case is one of several brought challenging the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) classification of “socially disadvantaged groups.”

A white farmer filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville) on ... read more >
This case is one of several brought challenging the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) classification of “socially disadvantaged groups.”

A white farmer filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville) on May 18, 2021. The two defendants were the Secretary of Agriculture (who leads the USDA) and the administrator of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). Plaintiff challenged Section 1005 of ARP which offered loan forgiveness only to farmers who qualified as "socially disadvantaged." The USDA, for purposes of Section 1005, defined a "socially disadvantaged group" as African Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. Plaintiff claimed that "[b]ut for his race, [he] would be eligible" under Section 1005 and argued that Section 1005 violated the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Plaintiff asserted that Section 1005’s blanket classifications were not narrowly tailored nor “intended or designed to remedy specific instances of racial discrimination” as required. He further argued that because Section 1005 violated equal protection, the USDA’s adherence to it would be an “unlawful agency action” under the APA. Relief sought included declaratory relief; preliminary and permanent injunctive relief enjoining Section 1005's racial classifications; $1 in nominal damages; and attorney’s fees. Plaintiff was represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation. District Judge Marcia Morales was assigned.

Plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction on May 25, 2021, seeking to enjoin the USDA from limiting loan assistance only to "socially disadvantaged" farmers under Section 1005. In the alternative, it sought to enjoin Section 1005 entirely. The government filed a response to this motion on June 4, 2021. It cited a history of discrimination by past USDA programs against those now designated as "socially disadvantaged" and lawsuits from the late 1990s through the 2000s challenging discrimination in USDA farming loans and other benefits, alleging that discrimination continued even after plaintiffs in these prior lawsuits secured relief. With that in mind, defendants cited evidence of Congress' apparent intent to pass Section 1005 to specifically remedy this past discrimination and prevent it from continuing with the ARP's COVID-19 relief.

The court granted the preliminary injunction on June 23, 2021. Defendants were enjoined until further notice from issuing any payments or loan forgiveness under Section 1005(a)(2) of the ARP. 2021 WL 2580678.

Defendants moved to stay all proceedings pending the resolution of the class action challenges to Section 1005 in Miller v. Vilsack (PB-TX-0017) on July 12, 2021. In Miller, the district court had both preliminarily enjoined the enforcement of Section 1005 and certified two classes of farmers bringing similar claims of discrimination. As of August 9, 2021, this motion was still pending.

This case is ongoing.

Eric Gripp - 08/09/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
American Rescue Plan (ARP)
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Lending
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Funding
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
White
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Defendant(s) Farm Service Agency
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Plaintiff Description A white farmer from Jennings, Florida.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2021 - n/a
Filed 05/18/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Wynn v. Vilsack: Race-based COVID-19 farm loan forgiveness denies equal treatment to farmers
Pacific Legal Foundation
Date: Jun. 23, 2021
(Pacific Legal Foundation)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
M.D. Fla.
07/14/2021
3:21-cv-00514-MMH-JRK
PB-FL-0022-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
M.D. Fla.
05/18/2021
Complaint Challenge to Constitutionality of Section 1005 of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Injunctive and Declaratory Relief Requested [ECF# 1]
PB-FL-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Fla.
06/04/2021
Defendants' Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 22]
PB-FL-0022-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Fla.
06/29/2021
Order [ECF# 41] (2021 WL 2580678)
PB-FL-0022-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Fla.
07/12/2021
Defendants' Motion for an Administrative Stay Pending Resolution of Defendants' Stay Motion [ECF# 45]
PB-FL-0022-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Howard, Marcia Morales (M.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0003 | PB-FL-0022-9000
Klindt, James R. (M.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fa, Wencong M (California) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0001 | PB-FL-0022-9000
Martin, Christina Marie (Florida) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0001 | PB-FL-0022-9000
Ortner, Daniel M. (California) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0001 | PB-FL-0022-9000
Roper, Glenn Evans (Colorado) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0001 | PB-FL-0022-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Boynton, Brian M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0002 | PB-FL-0022-0004
Farby, Lesley (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0002 | PB-FL-0022-0004
Newton, Emily Sue (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0002 | PB-FL-0022-0004 | PB-FL-0022-9000
Snow, Kyla (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-0002 | PB-FL-0022-0004 | PB-FL-0022-9000
Other Lawyers Chen, Randolph T (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-9000
Culpepper, Jessica Leigh (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-9000
Muraskin, David Samuel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-9000
Varnell, Janet R. (Florida) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-9000
Warwick, Brian W (Florida) show/hide docs
PB-FL-0022-9000

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