A class action lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture alleged discrimination in the allocation of farm loans and assistance to African American Farmers. The Billion Dollar lawsuit was settled with payment to each black farmer who had filed. There were about 33,000 who were actually farming when the original lawsuit was filed. When the qualification for filing was so easy, the Department soon received additional claimants. It seems that almost 60,000 immediately became "farmers" when checks were being delivered by the Post Office. It's reported that only 11% of the recipients live in rural farming areas.
The USDA required that claimants submit documentation of a farmland ownership interest, "if available", so submission of documents was optional. Many stated they had "ownership interests". All they had to do is state that from 1981 to 2000, they had a stake in a farm. Claimants didn't have to provide documentation that they operationally farmed, only that they "attempted" to farm, but couldn't because when they went to the USDA, they weren't given an application - that was sufficient proof of discrimination.
With such a "successful" program, we now have additional discrimination groups joining the action, including Native Americans, Hispanic and Female Farmers. Native Americans have expanded the settlement to include $400 Million for non-profit groups that aid Native American Farmers. They also agreed to millions for educational grants.
The Government Reports stated they found no evidence of ongoing, systematic discrimination. The Government Accountability Office stated that only 16% of minority farmers were denied loans; they also reported that 10% of white farmers were also denied loans, however they traced the difference to bad credit.
The USDA discarded failed loan applications after three years so proof of non-discrimination was limited, however, 90% of all claimants had no records either. Apparently there was fraud, but to what extent. We also believe there was discrimination, but to what extent. Government Bureaucrats with Government lawyers are very liberal in creating programs to help the people, with your tax money. Just check out the 4,000 programs where they give out grants and entitlements with about the same application requirements. So, get yours!
If you know of Farmers who were racially discriminated, profiled by the USDA, please advise them to contact the USDA's Farm Service Agency at -
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Service Agency
Public Affairs Staff
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250-0506
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