The government is offering American Indian farmers who say they were denied farm loans a $680 million settlement.
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.
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.
The lawsuit filed in 1999 contends Indian farmers and ranchers lost about $500 million because they were denied USDA loans. The government settled a similar lawsuit filed by black farmers, more than a decade ago. Currently, the black farmers are looking for Congress to fund their 1.25 billion dollar Pigford ll discrimination settlement the President placed in his 2011 Budget. They black agrarians have been waiting 15 years for the financial restitution.
Senior Advisor to President Obama, Valarie Jarrett said Monday from her West Wing office the black farmer settlement funding is “at stake” in this 2010 Mid Term election.
Farmer advocate, Shirley Sherrod contends, “going on and settling Pigford [Pigford ll], the Hispanic, the Native American, the women and any of the others that pop up, is a step forward to get to a point where we can live in this country as people, Not as blacks not as whites, not as Hispanics or Native Americans but as people.”