USDA Sets Aside Minority Funding

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently set aside a portion of farm lending funds specifically to go to women and minority farmers. The decision, USDA officials claim, will guarantee that minority farmers have access to important funding options.

For the past several years, the USDA has been attempting to rebuild its image after a series of class action lawsuits. For more than a decade, African American, Hispanic, Native America, and women farmers have been fighting the USDA in court, alleging that loan officials unfairly denied them access to farm credit. As one of his first decisions in office, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made it a priority to streamline lawsuit settlements to guarantee that farmers who suffered discrimination were able to receive compensation.

In addition, Vilsack and the USDA have made it a priority to rebuild trust between minority communities and the department. The USDA has praised the role of minority farmers, has funded programs designed to increase participation of minority farmers in the agricultural industry, and has encourages minority farmers to run for local Farm Service Agency offices.

This recent decision is a continuation of this policy. By setting aside a portion of FSA loan money, the USDA can guarantee that vulnerable farmers have access to much needed farm credit.

According to one FSA official, “While FSA farm loans are available to all qualified applicants, by setting aside funds specifically for women and minorities, it ensures that they will receive a portion of available funds.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer