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Farm Service Agency

Fort Belknap, MT: (May-14-07) Dozens of Native American farmers and ranchers in Montana, have filed a federal lawsuit against the government, claiming that they have been dealt with unfairly in government farm and loan programs. Sixty Fort Belknap Reservation residents joined in a 1999 discrimination lawsuit that accuses the US Department of Agriculture and its Farm Service Agency of systematic discrimination in farm-loan programs. The suit alleged that thousands of Indian farmers and ranchers were not given the same opportunities for farm loans and disaster assistance that white producers routinely received. The plaintiffs also note that the USDA dismantled its system for processing civil-rights claims in the mid-1980s, and has failed to adequately consider complaints of discrimination since then. Some Native American groups referred to one particular suit that won a record settlement, claiming that the victory was the outcome of political clout. Black peanut farmers from the South filed a lawsuit in 1997, called the Pigford case charging unfair treatment by the FSA. Two years later they won a record civil-rights settlement that has allowed more than 14,000 plaintiffs to share in almost $1 billion in compensation through grants and loan forgiveness. [GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE: FARM LOAN DISCRIMINATION]

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Published on May-15-07


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