Tag Archives: Tom Vilsack

Gov’t offers $680 million for Indian farmers …as reported by AP – Reminder


WASHINGTON — The government is offering American Indian farmers who say they were denied farm loans a $680 million settlement.

Unlike a second round of the black farmers suit that is now pending in Congress, the American Indian money would not need legislative action to be awarded.

The two sides agreed on the deal after more than 10 months of negotiations. The government and the Indian plaintiffs met in federal court Tuesday to present the settlement to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

The agreement also includes $80 million in farm debt forgiveness for the Indian plaintiffs and a series of initiatives to try and alleviate racism against American Indians and other minorities in rural farm loan offices. Individuals who can prove discrimination could receive up to $250,000.

A hearing on preliminary approval of the deal is set for Oct. 29. Sullivan indicated he was pleased with the agreement, calling it historic and coming down off his bench to shake hands with lawyers from both sides.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West and Joseph Sellers, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, both said they were encouraged by the judge’s positive reaction.

“Based on the court’s comments, we’re optimistic,” West said after the hearing adjourned.

The lawsuit filed in 1999 contends Indian farmers and ranchers lost hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades because they were denied USDA loans that instead went to their white neighbors. The government settled a similar lawsuit filed by black farmers more than a decade ago.

“Today’s settlement can never undo wrongs that Native Americans may have experienced in past decades, but combined with the actions we at USDA are taking to address such wrongs, the settlement will provide some measure of relief to those who have been discriminated against,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

Claryca Mandan of North Dakota’s Three Affiliated Tribes, a plaintiff in the case, stopped ranching after she and her husband were denied loans in the early 1980s. She said she was pleased with the settlement.

“This is a culmination of 30 years of struggle,” she said

And Republicans continue to interfere and hurt POC who own land

Stop deep cuts to conservation programs …

Right now, critical conservation initiatives are in serious jeopardy and you can help save vulnerable programs that are protecting our nation’s natural resources.

Earlier this year, President Obama proposed major cuts to conservation funding that would let four million acres of land fall through the cracks. Now, he has called for an additional 5% cut in the budgets of non-security federal agencies.

Agencies must respond with their proposed cuts by September 13.

Don’t let conservation become a cost cutting casualty. Please urge Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack NOT to slash vulnerable programs that are protecting our nation’s precious natural resources >

While we applaud this effort to move towards a more balanced federal budget, we cannot cut programs that help farmers, ranchers, and private landowners secure a cleaner future for our air, water and land.

Farmers, ranchers and private landowners are stewards of over 70% of the land in America. Gutting initiatives — like the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program — will cut support to those partners who are investing in tackling environmental challenges on their lands.

Demand for these programs already far outweighs available funding. Tell Secretary Vilsack NOT to cut one dime >

Critical conservation initiatives are in serious jeopardy – you can help

Sign the Petition

With the continuing threat of climate change, water challenges, and the newest environmental disaster in the Gulf, now is not the time to slash vital conservation efforts. Please take action and speak out in support of transformational and effective initiatives that help farmers, ranchers and landowners protect our futures.


The Change.org Team in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund