I received an email about this and thought it was worth passing on.
Hispanic farmers and ranchers deserve justice! Join us in calling on President Obama to end discrimination and bring transparency to USDA-administered farm programs. Sign the petition online here.
GUADALUPE L. GARCIA JR. v. TOM VILSACK
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Civil Action No. 1:00CV02445
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Civil Action No. 04-5448 (Consolidated)
The Garcia case is a class action lawsuit which seeks to remedy years of massive and admitted discrimination against Hispanic farmers and ranchers who were denied access to United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) loan programs in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1691, et seq. The lawsuit also seeks to remedy discrimination against Hispanic farmers and ranchers in the administration of USDA farm benefit programs. Unlike most lawsuits, the salient facts in this case are not disputed.
According to such authoritative sources as the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the Congress of the United States and former Agriculture Secretary Glickman, the original defendant in this case, the USDA has a long, sordid and well-documented history of discrimination against minorities in connection with farm credit and benefit programs. The USDA not only systematically discriminated against Hispanic and other minority farmers for decades, but in the early 1980s the USDA secretly dismantled its apparatus for civil rights enforcement. As a result, for approximately fifteen years, minority farmers who complained of discrimination in connection with farm credit and benefit programs, found their complaints relegated to a bureaucratic black hole. Those complaints that were not lost or intentionally destroyed were placed in an empty office to gather dust. When Congress learned this, it took the extraordinary step of waiving the ECOA’s two-year statute of limitations applicable to claims arising from January 1, 1981 to December 31, 1996. To date, the government has paid nearly $1 billion to almost 13,000 black farmers who alleged discrimination identical to that experienced by Hispanic and other minority farmers and ranchers. Yet despite the historic settlement of the black farmers’ lawsuit, tens of thousands of black farmers are disgruntled because (1) they were denied hearings on the merits of their claims, and (2) the settlement provided no forward-looking remedial relief.
There’s a lot more at the link, so check it out.