HS News Network
Another Christmas Without Justice For Hispanic Farmers
Photo: USDA Lawsuit
“The current treatment of Hispanic farmers by the Obama administration is both shameful and insulting. Does the Administration really expect enthusiastic support from Hispanic farmers during the upcoming election year while it continues to deny us justice and offers us a settlement proposal that is discriminatory on its face?” explains Lupe Garcia of Las Cruces, NM, President of Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers of America Inc. and lead plaintiff in the Garcia lawsuit.
The Obama Administration continues to offer Hispanic farmers a process for resolving these claims that is substantially and procedurally less favorable and more burdensome than the claims process provided African American farmers who timely complained of identical discrimination by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). In fact the Hispanic claims process is even less favorable and more onerous than the process provided African American farmers who filed late claims.
“Nothing this Christmas has changed for Hispanic farmers waiting for their government to treat them with respect and fairness,” says South Texas farmer, David Cantu, lead plaintiff in Cantu vs. Vilsack. “It is a shame that another Christmas will come and go while Hispanic farmers continue to wait for long-overdue justice from the Obama Administration.”
To illustrate the unfairness of the current situation, Cantu notes that under the Pigford I settlement USDA provided African American farmers with an alternative dispute resolution process that permitted African American farmers to receive such damages they could prove without limitation and the largest such recovery was $13 million. However, the maximum Hispanic and female farmers can receive under the Administration’s current proposal is $50,000, even though they have suffered the same discrimination and indignities as African American farmers. “Somehow, our pain is worth considerably less than pain of African Americans,” Cantu said.
Gary Sandoval, a farmer from Antonito, Colorado, states that “It is astounding that the White House has conducted good faith negotiations with the representatives of the African American and Native American farmers, while simultaneously refusing to enter into good faith settlement discussions with our representatives. This is yet another form of discrimination.”
“We have been waiting for over a decade for the White House to engage in good faith negotiations with our representatives. When we all voted for President Obama in 2008 we thought he’d be the president to finally bring us justice,” says Larry Chavarria, a third generation farmer from Lemoore, CA. “It is almost 2012, and, his administration refuses to participate in any discussions with our representatives. This is not the change we voted for in 2008.”
For additional information regarding the Garcia lawsuit please visit our website at www.hispanicfarmersforjustice.org.