Women farmers, including those who are plaintiffs in Love v. Vilsack, the pending gender discrimination lawsuit asserting constitutional and statutory claims against the US Department of Agriculture for its administration of farm loan programs, appreciate that the Obama administration is offering a claim resolution program in an attempt to address USDA’s systematic discrimination against women farmers dating back many decades.  However, the farmers and their counsel, Arent Fox, LLP, voiced concerns about serious problems with the claims program that USDA kicked off on Sept. 24, 2012.  As the plaintiffs have pointed out in recent filings with the court, the program violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act in offering to women (and Hispanic) farmers a claims program that is inferior to and more onerous than the programs the government provided to other minority famers.

Rosemary Love, a named plaintiff in the Love v. Vilsack case, said that “the opening of a claim resolution program for women farmers seems like a positive step, but I hope that deserving women will actually be able to navigate this complex process and finally obtain relief.”  The Love v. Vilsack lawsuit has been pending since 2000, and many women farmers have been waiting several decades for the government to remedy the well-documented and widespread gender discrimination they suffered.  Ms. Love noted that the claim form and other documents for USDA’s program are problematic.  “The form is confusing and sometimes inconsistent with the other documents provided by the government.  I expect that many farmers will have trouble understanding and completing the documents.”