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Bush farm bill veto threatens potential discrimination claims against USDA

[JURIST] The future of a landmark discrimination case [NBFA press release] brought by black farmers against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) [official website] is uncertain after President George W. Bush vetoed the new Farm Bill [HR 2419 materials] Wednesday. The bill included a provision [AP file report] that would have reopened the class-action suit in which plaintiffs allege that the USDA improperly discriminated against them in its allocation of loans, disaster relief, and other assistance. AP has more.

The USDA reached a settlement [NALC backgrounder] in the matter in 1999, but thousands of farmers argue that the terms were inadequate. Many farmers were left out after missing an October 1999 filing deadline. The new bill would allow them to either submit claims for compensation under terms similar to the 1999 settlement or file new lawsuits. The bill passed both houses of Congress by a wide margin, but President Bush contended that the bill would artificially alter the market for agricultural products by subsidizing higher-income farmers and agribusiness concerns. Reuters has additional coverage.

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