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Lupe Garcia is a third generation Hispanic farmer. Since 2000 he has been fighting to bring accountability and transparency to the USDA-administered farm credit programs as the named plaintiff in the Garcia v. Vilsack law suit.
Garcia & Sons-- Lupe, his father and brother-- owned two farms in Dona Ana County, New Mexico where they grew onions, lettuce, wheat and corn. The family operation repeatedly applied for the operating loans farmers depend on to stay in business; loans the Farm Service Agency was set up to make. Despite positive cash flow, profitability and sufficient collateral, Garcia and Sons was unable to obtain the loans that were supposed to be available to them under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. This systematic deprivation of operating capital continued until they were foreclosed upon in 1999. The foreclosure was the result of the USDA’s refusal to grant the Garcias the same loans, disaster relief and advice they were providing to other, less qualified farmers.
The Garcia family’s story is one of thousands of cases of admitted discrimination by the USDA against minority farmers and ranchers. African American, Native American and women farmers were similarly discriminated against. In the case of African American farmers justice is being served. That group is being compensated with $2.25 billion. Justice for the others has been deferred. In the words of former Congressman Kika de la Garza “It is simply untenable logically, legally, morally or politically that four minority groups can suffer the identical discrimination from the same federal agency and yet only one of the four groups be compensated on a class-wide basis.”
The issue is simply whether the decades of admitted discrimination by our government against these farmers should be rectified by granting a fair settlement of their discrimination claims. We believe there is no place for discrimination within a tax payer funded federal program and that a settlement like the one already granted to African American farmers is long overdue.
Since the beginning of Lupe Garcia’s fight over nine years ago, untold numbers of farmers and ranchers have gone out of business- lost their farms, been foreclosed upon, or just quit. Some have faced retaliation. Many, like Lupe’s father, have literally died waiting for relief. Help us win justice for Hispanic farmers and ranchers.
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