Published on Oct 19, 2010
USDA to pay $760 million in damages and debt relief for discrimination against American Indian farmers and ranchers
Washington, D.C. – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is praising today’s settlement of the nationwide class action lawsuit (Keepseagle v. Vilsack) between American Indian farmers and ranchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The agreement settles 11 years of litigation regarding discrimination against American Indian farmers and ranchers in the USDA’s farm loan program.
"This settlement provides long awaited justice for American Indian farmers and ranchers who have only sought an equal opportunity to work hard and succeed,” said Jefferson Keel, the President of NCAI. “We are pleased that the court and the Obama Administration have taken tangible steps today to right a wrong reinforce the trust relationship between the United States and American Indian tribal nations.
The Keepseagle settlement agreement, announced today in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. before Judge Emmet Sullivan, orders USDA to pay $680 million in damages to thousands of Native American farmers and ranchers and to forgive up to $80 million worth of outstanding farm loan debt.
The settlement will also improve USDA’s farm loan services for Native Americans. Initiatives outlined in the settlement include the creation of a Native American Farmer and Rancher Council, which will enable Native Americans farmers and ranchers to collaborate with top USDA officials on greater and equitable access to USDA’s programs. Additionally USDA has agreed to work toward enhanced delivery of technical assistance to Native American borrowers, the creation of sub-offices on tribal lands, a systematic review of the farm loan program rules to improve accessibility to Native Americans and other measures designed to improve the provision of farm loan services to Native Americans.
Additional information about the Keepseagle v. Vilsack settlement is available at www.IndianFarmClass.com or by calling, toll free, 1-888-233-5506.
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