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A farmer pulls a corn planter behind his John Deere tractor in Wisconsin. Photo: Mark Hirsch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of white Midwestern farmers sued the federal government Thursday, alleging discrimination because they are not eligible for a COVID-19 loan forgiveness program aimed at helping disadvantaged farmers, AP reports.

Why it matters: Under the Biden administration, about $4 billion of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will be allocated to disadvantaged farmers, about a quarter of whom are Black.

The big picture: The white farmers — who hail from a variety of states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Ohio — claim that their ineligibility for the disadvantaged farmers fund is a violation of their constitutional rights, per AP.

  • The suit wants to stop the Department of Agriculture from using race to guide eligibility for "loan modifications and payments," as well as "unspecified damages," AP reports.

What they're saying: "Because plaintiffs are ineligible to even apply for the program solely due to their race, they have been denied the equal protection of the law and therefore suffered harm," the lawsuit reads, according to AP.

But, but, but: Inequality among farmers is deeply imbedded, both in the past and present. Under the Trump administration, o.1% of the COVID-19 relief aid for American farmers went to Black farmers.

  • The Department of Agriculture said in a statement that it was reviewing the lawsuit, but it plans to continue to offer lean forgiveness to "socially disadvantaged" farmers, per AP.

Go deeper: Clyburn condemns Graham for calling COVID aid to Black farmers "reparations"

Go deeper

Graham says he urged Trump "to be aggressive" about COVID vaccine

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who recently tested positive for COVID-19, told AP on Thursday that he's urged former President Trump "to be aggressive and say, 'Take the vaccine'" to increase vaccination rates.

The big picture: Some Republicans have pushed Trump, who was vaccinated in January, to become more vocal in pushing his supporters to get the vaccine.

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan police reform negotiations end without deal

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) with Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the Capitol in May 2021. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bipartisan talks on reforming police tactics and accountability, prompted by George Floyd's murder in May 2020, have ended without a compromise, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a key negotiator, said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lawmakers, led by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Booker, had been working toward a bipartisan deal for months but things fell apart due to disagreements on qualified immunity and other issues.

Federal Reserve scales back expectations for economic recovery as Delta variant weighs

Fed chair Jerome Powell during a congressional hearing last year. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Fed downgraded near-term expectations for the economy and the labor market, alongside hotter-than-expected inflation, in new estimates out on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's the first time those closely-watched estimates reflect impact from the delta variant that's already rattled the labor market. Still, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said enough progress has been made to begin to pull back emergency-era measures that have supported the economy.