On October 19, the federal government and the Department of Agriculture agreed to pay $680 million to settle discrimination claims brought by Native American farmers and ranchers. Claiming that the USDA unjustly denied loans, approved loans for less than the requested amount, and required restrictive conditions, the class action discrimination lawsuit has been fought in court for the last 10 years. While the settlement still requires approval from a federal judge, the offer from the USDA is a major step forward for the nearly 200 plaintiffs from Montana and Wyoming.
Those who are able to demonstrate discrimination will be entitled to a portion of the $680 million, as well as potential loan waivers or forgiveness from the UDSA. In addition to the settlements, the USDA is issuing a moratorium on foreclosures and has pledged to change lending programs to increase Native American lending. The total settlement package could run as high as $760 million.
Luke Crasco, a member of the Fort Belknap tribes and one of the original representatives in the lawsuit, claimed he was repeatedly discriminated against by the USDA and told, “Why don’t you Indians just go back to Fort Belknap and borrow money there? That’s where you belong,” and “You Indians are always getting things for free.”
To inquiry about agircultural financing opportunities call 866-929-5585 to speak with a Farm Plus representative today or visit us online for more information.
Written by: Justin Ellison, Farm Plus Staff Writer