FEBRUARY 11, 2013
The Obama administration is determined to keep throwing money at minority farmers who claim to be victims of government discrimination, this month issuing a friendly reminder of an upcoming application deadline and a call center to facilitate the claims process.
The minority farmer cash giveaway started a few years ago when the administration gave black farmers $1.2 billion to settle discrimination allegations against the government. The farmers say they were cheated out of federal aid, mainly farm loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), because of their race. President Obama said the settlement was “another important step forward in addressing an unfortunate chapter in USDA’s civil rights history.”
Celebrating the historic settlement, Obama’s Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, assured that “civil rights has become a top priority” since the president picked him to run the USDA. He also guaranteed that the agency has “implemented a comprehensive program to correct past errors” and taken “definitive action” to ensure minorities are treated fairly.
It wasn’t long before Hispanic and women farmers yelled “what about us?” They too wanted lots of cash for their alleged suffering and the administration quickly obliged, offering a chunk of change to make up for Uncle Sam’s supposed transgressions. The USDA subsequently announced a generous package for women and Hispanics that includes $1.33 billion in “compensation” and $160 million in “farm debt relief.”
To get the word out the feds launched an impressive bilingual advertising and public relations campaign that includes national outreach tours by top USDA officials as well as Justice Department bigwigs because that agency is sort of overseeing it. The goal is to ensure that any Hispanic or woman farmer or rancher who alleges discrimination is aware of the money pot, according to the USDA official in charge of the program.
With time running out, the agency is on a full-throttle push to recruit applicants. In its latest reminder, issued just a few days ago, the USDA says claims must be postmarked by March 25. It assures that the agency will continue reaching out to potential Hispanic and female claimants around the country to get the word out to individuals who may be eligible for this program so they have the opportunity to participate.
“Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices in the past from the USDA have 45 days left to file a claim in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness,” Vilsack says in the announcement. “USDA urges potential claimants to contact the Claims Administrator for information and mail their claim packages on or before March 25, 2013.”
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