Bennet: USDA Extends Claims Process for Colorado Hispanic, Women Farmers

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today welcomed the announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it would extend the deadline for Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers in Colorado to submit their claims related to the Garcia v. Vilsack discrimination lawsuit. USDA extended the deadline from March 25, 2013 to May 1, 2013.

The extension comes after Bennet and other members of the delegation urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to allow more time for farmers to file their claims.

“This decision will give Colorado’s Hispanic and women farmers sufficient time to seek justice from USDA,” Bennet said. “Generations of families who have committed their lives to agriculture and have produced food, fuel, and fiber for this country should not have to endure decades of discrimination because of a legal technicality or because they got the wrong judge. This extension was the least we could do to make sure we get this right.”

During his time in the Senate, Bennet has pushed the administration to come to a swift and equitable resolution in this case.

A group of more than 100 Hispanic farmers filed suit against the USDA in 2000. The suit, Garcia v. Vilsack, alleged that the USDA’s Farm Service Agency discriminated against Hispanic farmers in the awarding of operating and disaster loans between 1981 and 2000. Through a settlement process, the USDA agreed to create a process to review claims.