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Case Name Dunlap v. Vilsack PB-OR-0007
Docket / Court 2:21-cv-942 ( D. Or. )
State/Territory Oregon
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.”

Two white farmers, a husband and wife, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon ( ... 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.”

Two white farmers, a husband and wife, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (Pendleton) on June 24, 2021. The two defendants were the Secretary of Agriculture (who leads the USDA) and the administrator of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). Plaintiffs challenged Section 1005 of ARP which offered loan forgiveness only to farmers who qualified as "socially disadvantaged." The USDA, for the purposes of Section 1005, defined a "socially disadvantaged group" as African Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. Plaintiffs claimed that "[b]ut for [their] race, [they] would be eligible" under Section 1005, arguing that Section 1005 violated the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). As to equal protection, the plaintiffs asserted that Section 1005 would not survive the standard of Adarand Constructors Inc. v. Peña becuase Section 1005’s blanket classifications were not narrowly tailored nor “intended or designed to remedy specific instances of racial discrimination.” Plaintiffs 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. Plaintiffs were represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit that defends those “threatened by government overreach and abuse." Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan was assigned.

Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on June 29, 2021. This sought to enjoin the government from providing further loan assistance to "socially disadvantaged" farmers under Section 1005 until the case was resolved.

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 court had both preliminarily enjoined the enforcement of Section 1005 and certified two classes of farmers bringing similar claims of discrimination.

The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) and Association of American Indian Farmers (AAIF) filed an unopposed conditional motion to intervene as defendants on July 13, 2021. However, both groups asked the court to defer consideration of the motion pending future developments in the lawsuit. Specifically, they asked if they could intervene in the future should the government advance "arguments that are adverse to NBFA and AAIF's interests" such as "failing to document USDA's history of discrimination" which Section 1005 was designed to alleviate.

The court granted the defendants' motion to stay proceedings on July 16, 2021.

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
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 White farmers -- a husband and wife -- from Baker City, Oregon.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 06/24/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Dunlap v. Vilsack: Race-based COVID-19 farm loan forgiveness denies equal treatment to Oregon farmer
Pacific Legal Foundation
Date: Jun. 24, 2021
(Pacific Legal Foundation)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Or.
07/16/2021
2:21-cv-00942-SU
PB-OR-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Or.
06/24/2021
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PB-OR-0007-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Or.
07/12/2021
Defendants' Motion to Stay and Memorandum in Support [ECF# 16]
PB-OR-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Sullivan, Patrick Michael Court not on record show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fa, Wencong M (California) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0001 | PB-OR-0007-9000
Martin, Christina Marie (Florida) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0001 | PB-OR-0007-9000
Ortner, Daniel M. (California) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0001 | PB-OR-0007-9000
Roper, Glenn Evans (Colorado) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0001 | PB-OR-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Boynton, Brian M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0002
Farby, Lesley (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0002
Feldon, Gary Daniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0002 | PB-OR-0007-9000
Knapp, Michael Fraser (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0002
Newton, Emily Sue (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0002
Snow, Kyla (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-0002
Other Lawyers Chen, Randolph T (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-9000
Dahab, Nadia H. (Oregon) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-9000
Sugerman, David F. (Oregon) show/hide docs
PB-OR-0007-9000

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