Press "Enter" to skip to content

Whining White SD Farmer Joins Conservative Lawsuit Against Biden Stimulus to Beg for Farm Welfare

Jay T. Slaba of Ludlow, South Dakota, is one of five white farmers recruited by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty suing to stop the federal government from using the American Rescue Plan, the Biden Administration’s coronavirus relief and stimulus law enacted in March, to fight systemic racism in farming. The all-white-led and almost all-white-lawyered says it’s illegal and unconstitutional to fight “systemic racism” (around which WILL places mock quotes) by offering federal benefits to citizens who race has caused them social disadvantage.

To his credit, Jay T. Slaba has the dignity not to pose barefoot for a coveralls glamour shot in front of his tractor, the way one of WILL’s white Wisconsin litigants did:

barefoot WIsconsin dairy farmer?
Those feet look awfully clean; I suspect the boots he does all of his work in are sitting in the cab or just out of the overly-artsy photographer’s range. And seriously: how many dairy farmers go out in the farmyard or climb into the tractor to work without boots? Clip of photo of litigant from Faust et al. v. Vilsack and Ducheneaux, WILL, press release, 2021.04.29.

Just as WILL posed that poor farmer for that unrealistic photo, the white lawyers filing this lawsuit are posing as defenders of the Constitution to thinly cover their effort to preserve white privilege. As Farm Service Agency administrator and now defendant Zach Ducheneaux explained in March, the ARP’s Debt Relief Plan for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers addresses a real problem that deserves a real federal response, not racist mock quotes:

USDA recognizes that socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have faced systemic discrimination with cumulative effects that have, among other consequences, led to a substantial loss in the number of socially disadvantaged producers, reduced the amount of farmland they control, and contributed to a cycle of debt that was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, socially disadvantaged communities saw a disproportionate amount of COVID-19 infection rates, loss of property, hospitalizations, death, and economic hurt.

To address these systemic challenges, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides historic debt relief to socially disadvantaged producers including Black/African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian American or Pacific Islander [Zach Duchenaux, FSA administrator, “American Rescue Plan Socially Disadvantaged Farmer Debt Payments,” USDA Our Farmers blog, 2021.03.26].

Notice that the benefits drawing the white farmers’ and white lawyer’s fire are not actual checks but simply forgiveness of farm loans. This loan forgiveness addresses unique and long-standing discrimination that the USDA committed against racial-minority farmers:

The department has a long history of discriminating against Black farmers. That sometimes happened in overt ways: forcing people off their land, subjecting them to hostility and contempt in federal offices, and conspiring with banks and land developers to steal their property. But even when that mistreatment took a more discreet form—like routinely denying black farmers the same loans white farmers obtained with ease—its impact was still devastating. USDA and federal farm policy are largely responsible for driving Black people out of farming almost entirely. Black farmers lost around 90 percent of the land they owned between 1910 and 1997, while white farmers lost only about 2 percent over the same period.

That USDA practices helped bring about this steep decline is, even in the department’s own words, “well documented.” The government recorded widespread racial discrimination at the agency in lengthy reports from themid-1960s, early 1980s, and late 1990s, especially in the provision of credit. A report from 1997 noted that a respondent in Belzoni, Mississippi, said that USDA treated small and minority farmers “worse than I would treat a dog” [Nathan Rosenberg and Bryce Wilson Stucki, “How USDA Distorted Data to Conceal Decades of Discrimination Against Black Farmers,” The Counter, 2019.06.26].

I can guarantee that WILL’s posing palefaced plaintiffs have never suffered systemic discrimination like that from the USDA. And if they have suffered other maltreatment or misfortunes that have led to their “social disadvantage,” USDA already offers plenty of other benefits… as Slaba is already well aware, as he received $67,587 in farm subsidies in 2017 and $33,691 in 2018. The “Slaba Ranch” in Ludlow may belong to some other Ludlow Slaba, but I suspect Jay at least knows the owner of that operation, and that operation drew ranch subsidies of $11,023 in 2019 and $30,994 in 2020.

Slaba’s fellow litigants also received federal farm benefits in the last four years:

  • Adam P. Faust, Chilton, WI: $60,472
  • Christopher C. Baird, Ferryville, WI: $4,026
  • Jonathan P. Stevens, Rock Creek, MN: I’m not sure, here, as WILL lists Stevens as farming near Rock Creek, but I find a Jonathan P. Stevens listed in neighboring zip code, 55063, from Pine Island whose recent four-year subsidization totals $32,410.
  • Joseph W. Schmitz, “western Ohio”: no clear EWG record.

Those checks and the USDA’s guidance on ARP farm loan forgiveness make clear that farmers whose social disadvantage has not stemmed from their race or ethnicity are still eligible for plenty of other USDA benefits:

Question 15: Are there any similar programs for borrowers who are not socially disadvantaged based on race and ethnicity?

  • This American Rescue Plan program is for socially disadvantaged borrowers, as outlined in Question 1. FSA offers a range of other support programs available, including assistance provided in response to the pandemic, Disaster Set-Aside and Primary Loan Servicing. If you are facing an economic hardship, we encourage you to contact your local USDA service center [USDA, “American Rescue Plan Debt Payments FAQ,” updated 2021.04.27].

White farmers and lawyers crying about black and brown and red farmers getting a hand are snowflakes who think black and brown and red Americans should only get the back of our hand. The posing plaintiffs in this case should eat their white privilege and green subsidies and let the rest of us address the very real problem of systemic racism in the USDA’s treatment of racial-minority farmers.


  1. o 2021-05-02 08:58

    What’s past is past; forget it and move on is a far a more palatable sentiment for those who have enjoyed all the benefits of the system and consequently find themselves at the top of the mountain. Even the idea that an individual is not, at this moment, taking action to unfairly repress or disadvantage another group means that the playing field is now “fair” willfully ignores the relationship of history to contemporary circumstances.

  2. Donald Pay 2021-05-02 09:33

    Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty conducts lawsuits on anti-minority, anti-science, anti-education and anti-public participation themes. These are horrible, very dangerous people. Essentially they are Ron Johnson nutcases with law degrees and huge donations to conduct their work for billionaires of destroying America.

  3. jerry 2021-05-02 10:56

    Shouldn’t expect less from a man who lives on stolen lands justified through racism.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-05-02 11:53

    Uh oh, Jerry: maybe all the farm subsidies should be directed to the previous Native occupants?

  5. Mark Anderson 2021-05-02 16:28

    Farmers used to be Democrats, but they joined their uppercrust brothers the ranchers into becoming Republican. Its amazing the ranchers let them in. They now all have their hands out at feeding time. A new car a year used to be fine for them, now its all or nothing.

  6. Bob Newland 2021-05-02 17:40

    NPR’s “Reveal” takes up this issue this week.

    Damn! “Reveal” is good. And it’s being run by our old friend Kate Looby, who was run out of SoDak by the Fred Deutches and Jim Bolins of the Republicature in Pierre.

  7. Norma Wilson 2021-05-02 17:58

    For too long farm subsidies have been going to rich farmers who don’t need them. But I’m sure that families, like Kristi Noem’s, who are still on the dole, are not happy that the Democrats want subsidies to go to farmers of color who have been discriminated in the past. The 5 farmers who are suing our government because of the Biden stimulus will lose. It’s time for a change

  8. grudznick 2021-05-02 18:53

    Do you remember that time back in those days, Bob, when young Ms. Looby was trotting about the legislatures and you went to Pierre in a borrowed black leather and your best fishing hat to try and have dinner with her and she spurned you? Ah, good times, but it is nice that Ms. Looby is still out there pressing the flesh for causes upon which you and I can agree.

  9. Bob Newland 2021-05-02 20:25

    I remember, Grudzie, that you exposed your nether parts to her, and she doubled over laughing at your pathetic presence.

  10. grudznick 2021-05-02 20:32

    Young Ms. Looby is indeed, one who has seen many nether parts, and it wasn’t the first time she had seen mine.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-02 21:58

    Cory–Rock Creek is on the border with Wisconsin…look for Mr. Stevens in Grantsburg or Danbury postal listings. and grudz….I’m a shirt tail relative of Ms. Looby and I don’t appreciate your comments, which are out of context and in poor taste.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-05-03 05:45

    Mark, I’m not sure that farmers converted en masse from Dem to Pub. I get the feeling that the Earl Butz philosophy and corporate strategy pushed all the small independent Democratic farmers off the land, leaving the victors of consolidation, the crony-capitalist corporate barons and exploiters who lean Republican, to dominate that dwindled sector. Those hangers-on who did convert from Democratic to Republican were Noem-like small-minders who could’t bear to see America’s inevitable shift from rural to urban, couldn’t imagine themselves being in a minority, could not accept their place as one small part of a more diverse nation, and slipped into the Noem-Arnold resentment of the government on which they are dependent and a society in general that doesn’t look or talk or act like they do. They compensate now with the Noem/GOP apartheidism, adopting the conceit that they are better than everyone else and deserve their special treatment.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-05-03 12:16

    Aaron, I’m hoping Stevens will use his YouTube channel to tell us about his litigation. What social disadvantage is he suffering for which he cannot get federal relief?

  14. Aaron 2021-05-03 12:26

    Corey, that would be an interesting question for him. Like many in his demo including Kristi Noem, I don’t know if any of them would ever consider a point of view with which they disagree as legitimate.

  15. mike from iowa 2021-05-03 14:12

    Farm Burro had a huge hand in runing small farmers off the land. Incorporate families, buy big and the gubmint rewarded the largest landowners with the largest subsidies. Even city dwelling landowners with no connection to farming or ranching.

Comments are closed.