Minnesota farmer wins fight against racist DFL policy

Back in January, I wrote about Lance Nistler, a Northern Minnesota farmer who was challenging an explicitly racist DFL policy. The Center Square reported:

In 2023, The Minnesota Legislature appropriated $500,000 to create a grant program for eligible small farmers to receive up to $15,000 to buy farmland. Eligible residents must be Minnesota residents earning less than $250,000 annually in gross agricultural sales, provide the majority of day-to-day labor on the farm they planned to buy for at least five years and not have previously owned farmland.

The report went on:

…Lance Nistler was picked 9th out of 176 people in the grant lottery and met all eligibility requirements but was placed at the back of the list because the program prioritizes “emerging farmers” when awarding funds.

“Emerging farmers” are farmers who can be categorized as racial minorities, women, or young, urban, and LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Nistler challenged this in court. As I noted:

The facts of this case are clear: Minnesota’s state government based its treatment of Lance Nistler on the color of his skin. We do not have to invoke “systemic” or “institutional” racism here: this is explicit.

And now the good news. KROC reports:

Minnesota farmer claimed victory in a lawsuit filed against the state in January that said his race and sex placed him at the back of the line to receive grants to buy farmland.

Gov. Tim Waltz recently signed legislation that rolls back the state’s policy of prioritizing “emerging farmers” based on characteristics such as race and sex.

“Thanks to the courage of a small farmer, equality before the law has been restored in Minnesota,” Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Andrew Quinio said. “Because Lance Nistler stood up for his right to equal treatment, the state will no longer disadvantage farmers based on their race and sex. We are thrilled that Gov. Walz and the state legislature responded to Lance’s lawsuit by amending the Down Payment Assistance Grant Program so that it does not unlawfully discriminate against Minnesota’s hardworking small farmers. We encourage other states to follow Minnesota’s about-face and stop violating the Constitution’s guarantee of equality before the law.”

This is the right outcome, of course, but Governor Walz should never have signed this racist legislation into law in the first place. I wrote in January:

One of the strangest and most disturbing political trends in recent years has been the enthusiastic embrace by many on the “left” of the most putrid racial politics long associated with the worst of the “right.” As a result, explicitly racist laws are, once again, being passed in the United States.

This is all based on the notion that, as Ibram X. Kendi writes, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

But you cannot oppose “bad racism” with “good racism” because there is no such thing as “good racism.” A similarly racist federal scheme was struck down and we hope that Lance Nistler prevails in Minnesota.

Happily, he has.