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Black farmers allege USDA discrimination in new class action lawsuit

[JURIST] The Virginia-based National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) [advocacy website] brought a class action lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) [official website] Monday, alleging on behalf of over 800 black farmers that the USDA improperly discriminated against them in its allocation of resources. The new Farm Bill [HR 2419 materials] expressly permits the new claims, but the Farm Bill's future is uncertain because the US House of Representatives' attempt to override a presidential veto was delayed last month [JURIST reports] due to a clerical error. AP has more.

Many farmers were left out of the 1999 settlement [NALC backgrounder] after missing a filing deadline, and thousands more argue that the terms of the settlement were inadequate. The NBFA expects an additional 5,000 plaintiffs to join the class. After earlier accusations of unfair distribution of resources, the USDA created the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) [official website] in 2003 to monitor compliance with civil rights laws and to help ensure equality in the administration of the USDA's many programs.

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