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Mon January 23, 2012
Native American Farmers And Ranchers May See Repayment Soon
Some Native American farmers and ranchers in Wyoming could be receiving checks and debt forgiveness in the coming year in the wake of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It’s estimated that Native American farmers and ranchers lost over 770-million-dollars in revenue between 1981 and 1999, because the USDA denied them loans and services based on their race. Many Native Americans also lost their land in the process.
They then sued the Department of Agriculture. Peter Romer-Friedman is an attorney representing plaintiffs. He says here in Wyoming, 57 claims have been filed, and that according to the most recent census of agriculture estimates, there are nearly 270 farms where one of the primary operators is Native American.
"We have thousands of people who have filed claims under the Keepseagle vs. Vilsack settlement to get up to 50-thousand dollars per-person as well as the release of all of their debt to the USDA under the farm loan program," says Romer-Fridman. "This means that hundreds of millions of dollars will be going to assist people who have been harmed by the governments discriminatory policies in Indian Country over the past 30 years."
Friedman says the class action suit was approved last year, and claims submitted by December 27th of last year are now being reviewed by a judge for final decision.