USDA offers settlement to women, Hispanic farmers

By Mary Clare Jalonick
Friday, February 25, 2011; 9:08 PM

The Obama administration announced Friday that it is offering at least $1.3 billion to settle complaints from female and Hispanic farmers who say they faced discrimination from the Department of Agriculture.

The Agriculture and Justice departments said that farmers who could prove discrimination could receive up to $50,000. The proposal comes after the government settled with Native Americans over similar discrimination issues last fall and Congress provided money for the second round of a settlement for black farmers.

Like the black and Indian farmers, the thousands of minorities and women say local USDA offices for years denied them loans and other assistance that routinely went to whites.

The government first announced its intent to settle the complaints in May. The more detailed offer announced Friday does not cap the number of farmers who may receive awards and waives some application fees.

Lawyers for both the women and Hispanic farmers said their clients deserve more money. Indian farmers were offered up to $250,000 each to settle claims.

- Associated Press

© 2011 The Washington Post Company