Love v. Vilsack could be settled by legislation
Back in 2000 Rosemary Love of Harlem, Montana brought a discrimination lawsuit with other women farmers alleging
they were denied loans by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) because they are women. The suit is known as Love v. Vilsack, and if this suit sounds familiar it is because African American farmers, Native American farmers, and Hispanic farmers have brought similar discrimination lawsuits against the USDA.
Now, as Jerry Hagstrom reports for Agweek online, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT) has introduced legislation that “finally could bring settlement of a discrimination lawsuit” filed by Love and the other women farmers.
The bill would establish a compensation fund of $4.6 billion for women farmers whom the USDA have denied for operating loans, purchase loans and emergency loans since 1981.
Love’s struggle with the USDA has been long and emotional. Love was initially denied an operating loan during the 1981 farm crisis, but she did eventually get the loan with liquidation of her farm as collateral (the loan was only worth half what Love had requested).
Hagstrom writes that later Love developed cancer, and while undergoing surgery for said cancer in 1983 a loan supervisor came to the hospital she was at and demanded payment on the loan. Love managed to hold onto her farm and brought her gender discrimination case against the USDA in 1987. In 1998 a government investigator determined Love was subjected to unfair treatment, but the USDA has not resolved the case.
At a news conference announcing the bill Love stated, ‘“This has been a decades-long struggle for me and my family . . . This bill is important for future women farmers — for daughters and granddaughters who want to continue farming.”
DeLauro made the following state about the bill:
DeLauro said she is filing the bill because, “This is an issue of fundamental fairness — all farmers, regardless of their gender or ethnicity, should be judged on the merit of their applications for their loans. Years of discrimination and unnecessary hardship for these women, and all minorities, cannot be allowed to continue. It is time to do right by those that have been discriminated against in our past and present, to live up to our founding principles, and to legislate an end to this unfortunate and regrettable era.”
To read the Agweek online story click here.
For more information on the Love case click here to view a website set up by the women’s attorneys.
For a similar website on the Native American case click here.