According to a news source, a district court in the District of Columbia has denied a request seeking an order that the Justice Department submit a proposal for settling claims of loan program discrimination filed by female farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Instead, the court apparently urged the lawyers representing the litigants to work together to reach an agreement and to report back during a January 14, 2011, status hearing.
Unlike recent cases addressing charges that USDA discriminated against African-American (Pigford I and Pigford II) and Native American (Keepseagle v. Vilsack) farmers, Love v. Vilsack reportedly involves putative class claims that have not been certified. Counsel for the women farmers and those representing Hispanic farmers with similar claims (Garcia v. Vilsack) contend that the government’s settlement proposals thus far pale in comparison to the sums agreed to in Pigford ($2.25 billion) and Keepseagle ($680 million). See National Journal Daily, December 3, 2010.