Are you a woman or a Hispanic who planted a backyard garden between 1981 and 2000? Did you ever dream of asking for a loan for help growing more? If so, you might be a victim of discrimination and entitled to a $50,000 payout from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But hurry—the deadline for submitting your claim is March 25.
The USDA announced in September that it would award a total of at least $1.3 billion to women and Hispanics who were not offered subsidized farm loans that they applied for, or said later they would have liked to apply for, from 1981 to 2000. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, saying that his agency was following the “path to justice,” invited “women and Hispanic farmers and ranchers who allege past discrimination” to come forward “to receive compensation.”
The bonanza was spurred by the Obama administration’s apparent discovery of a constitutional right for every citizen to squander tax dollars while farming. Since most farm loans previously went to white males, Uncle Sam is atoning by giving awards of $50,000 apiece to claimants from other ethnic groups or the non-male gender.
But the Arent Fox law firm in Washington, D.C., and other advocates for female farmers took exception to the USDA’s requirement that claimants submit solid evidence that they actually farmed or sought subsidized loans during the late 20th century.
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