The USDA recently announced that it would offer at least $1.3 billion to women Hispanic farmers to settle allegations of bias and discrimination. In addition to direct settlements, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA would offer $160 million in farm debt relief. These proposals hope to settle recent lawsuits without the need for protracted litigation.
Farmers who can establish their claims would be entitled to about $50,000 if they settled non-judicially. Individual lawsuits would be an option for farmers who did not feel that their compensation adequately covered their damages. Vilsack praised the decision as allowing Hispanic and women farmers to receive compensation without having to deal with arduous and burdensome legal avenues, while simultaneously giving farmers the option to pursue higher amounts. “Every farmer and rancher should be treated equally and fairly,” Vilsack said.
Recent allegations of bias have come on the heels of several costly and well publicized lawsuits by other groups. In October, the USDA settled with Native American farmers for over $600 million and in December it settled with African American farmers for over $1.2 billion.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer