(Updated 4/7) A group of House lawmakers Thursday introduced the Agriculture Civil Rights and Equality Act, or ACRE Act. The legislation would prohibit officials at the Department of Agriculture from discriminating or providing preferential treatment to any person on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex. The prohibitions would apply to USDA hiring, contracting, and programming, including programs administered by states, territories and universities using USDA funds.
The bill comes just weeks after President Joe Biden signed a massive, partisan $1.9 trillion spending package into law that includes a $5 billion agriculture debt relief program earmarked exclusively for non-white farmers. Wisconsin Republican, Representative Tom Tiffany, says, “it is fundamentally unfair for the government to treat farmers differently based on immutable characteristics.” Utah Republican, Representative Burgess Owens, adds, “I’m deeply concerned that Congress feels emboldened to perpetuate a modern-day form of racial segregation rather than provide relief to those who need it most.”