Gov't to offer settlement with Indian farmers

AP News
Posted: Oct 19, 2010 11:57 AM
Gov't to offer settlement with Indian farmers

A federal judge will consider a government offer to settle with American Indian farmers who say the Agriculture Department discriminated against them for decades.

The two sides are meeting in U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan's courtroom Tuesday afternoon to discuss a proposed deal. The government and the plaintiffs both declined to disclose the terms of the would-be settlement ahead of hearing.

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.

American Indian farmers have said that local USDA officials tried to squeeze them out of business by denying them loans that instead went to their white neighbors.