DECEMBER 03, 2010
Now that the U.S. government has dished out billions of dollars to settle discrimination lawsuits with black farmers and Indians, Hispanic and women farmers are pushing to get a piece of the generous reparation pie.
A few weeks ago Congress approved a landmark $4.55 settlement to make amends to blacks and Indians, who say they were victims of the government’s discriminatory practices. A chunk of the money will go to Indians who claim Uncle Sam mismanaged royalties from leases of tribal land, with the rest (around $1.15 billion) going to black farmers and would-be farmers who say they were cheated out of federal aid because of their race.
Proudly announcing the black farmer settlement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that “civil rights has become a top priority” since President Obama picked him to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that the agency has “implemented a comprehensive program to correct past errors” and taken “definitive action” to ensure minorities are treated fairly.
Hispanic and women farmers plan to put that to the test, announcing this week that they too want lots of cash for their suffering. Their lawsuit was actually filed about a decade ago, but the government hasn’t offered a big enough settlement so they’ve been holding out. Earlier this year the Obama Administration made a $1.33 billion offer to close the case, but they rejected it as “grossly inadequate.”
The recent settlements with two different minority groups has empowered the Hispanic and female farmers who this week blasted the Obama Administration for not treating them as well as their black and Native American counterparts. Their attorney calls it a “slap in the face” because blacks and Indians are going to get “more money and a better process.”
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