Justice for Hispanic Farmers

Lupe Garcia
Lupe Garcia 4 Comments
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President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Phone: (202) 456-1414 Fax: (202) 456-2461 Email: President@whitehouse.gov Re: Petition to Settle the Garcia Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers Discrimination Lawsuit Dear President Obama, Hispanic farmers and ranchers need your urgent assistance. On August 4, 2009 Judge Robertson, from the D.C. District Court, held a status conference hearing with our representatives and the Department of Justice attorneys who represent the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During this conference the DOJ attorneys said that they have no interest whatsoever in settling this lawsuit. We do not understand why the USDA is refusing to settle the Hispanic farmers and ranchers lawsuit after it already gave over a billion dollars to black farmers who experienced the exact same discrimination that we have at the hands of USDA. This discrimination is well known and admitted by USDA and has been the subject of numerous congressional reports and hearings. We were very pleased to see your acknowledgment of discriminatory practices when you recently announced that black farmers would receive another 1.25 billion as compensation for their discrimination. We are very disappointed that your administration is ignoring the needs of Hispanic farmers. This is unacceptable. We, the undersigned, call on you and your administration to enter into good faith negotiations with Garcia class counsel to resolve the Garcia v. Vilsack lawsuit in an expeditious and just manner, consistent with the Section 14011 in the 2008 Farm Bill. agosto de 2009 Presidente Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Phone: (202) 456-1414 Fax: (202) 456-2461 Email: President@whitehouse.gov Re: Petición Para Resolver la Demanda de Discriminación de García de los Agricultores Hispánicos Estimado Presidente Obama, Los agricultores Hispánicos necesitan su ayuda urgente. El 4 de agosto de 2009 el Juez Robertson, del Tribunal de Distrito del DC, tuvo una audiencia con nuestros representantes y los abogados del Departamento de Justicia (“DOJ”) que representan el Departamento de Agricultura de Los Estados Unidos (“USDA”). Durante esta audiencia, los abogados del Departamento de Justicia dijeron que no tenían ningún interés en encontrar una solución de esta demanda. No entendemos por qué el USDA se niega a resolver el pleito de los agricultores hispánicos después de que ya dio más de un billón de dólares a los agricultores negros que sufrieron la misma discriminación que los hispánicos en las manos del USDA. Esta discriminación es bien conocida y admitida por el USDA y ha sido el tema de numerosos informes y audiencias del Congreso. Estábamos muy contentos de ver a su reconocimiento de las prácticas discriminatorias del USDA cuando anunció recientemente que los agricultores negros recibirían otros 1,25 billones como compensación por su discriminación. Estamos muy decepcionados de que su administración está ignorando las necesidades de los agricultores hispánicos. Esto es inaceptable. Nosotros, los abajo firmantes, pedimos a usted y su administración a entrar en negociaciones de buena fe con los abogados de la clase de García para resolver el pleito de García v. Vilsack en una manera rápida y justa, de conformidad con la Sección 14011 de la Ley Agrícola de 2008.

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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. http://www.justiceforhispanicfarmers.org
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