Cresskill, NJ: American women farmers who were discriminated against by the USDA will soon have a process for settling their claims out-of-court. However while the Love v. Vilsack plaintiffs’ case has been dragging through the courts for 12 years (since October of 2000) many have already lost their farms to foreclosure. After the details of the settlement process have been finalized, it could be at least another year or more before the plaintiffs receive their settlements. For plaintiffs experiencing financial hardship, RD Legal Funding, LLC (“RD Legal”), a New Jersey based settlement funding company, will provide lawsuit financing by purchasing their legal receivables as soon as settlement amounts are finalized.
Today women are the fastest growing group among American farmers. Thanks to the brave women who first brought their discrimination cases against the USDA, farming may become a more viable way of life for future generations of female farmers.
"This has been a decades-long struggle for me and my family. This bill is important for future women farmers -- for daughters and granddaughters who want to continue farming," Rosemary Love, the named plaintiff in the Love v Vilsack case, told a reporter in 2010. The plaintiffs tell their heartbreaking stories on the Equality for Women Farmers Facebook page:
A third generation sheep farmer from Harlem, Montana (population 2435 according to the 2010 census), Love was denied an operating loan in 1981. She eventually got a loan for half of what she requested, with liquidation of her farm as collateral. According to Jerry Hagstrom of AGNEWS online, a loan supervisor came to her hospital bed to demand payment while she was recovering from surgery for cancer.
Gail Lennon, another of the original plaintiffs, was a farmer from Lookout, California (population 24 according to the 2010 census). She was required to provide excessive collateral for a loan only to have it put into a supervised account. Further discrimination forced her into foreclosure.
A Loudon County, Virginia loan officer called Linda Bara-Weaver “cutie” and “honey” before denying her a loan application, which was then given to her husband. The loan was turned down after she refused the loan officer’s sexual advances. After her husband’s death, a Flagler County, Florida loan officer asked Bara-Weaver how she expected to farm without a man and then threw her application in the garbage.
According to attorney Kristine Dunne with the Arent Fox law firm, Love v Vilsack counsel for plaintiffs, local FSA officers repeatedly denied female farmers their proper consideration (source: Delta Farm Press):
• Women farmers were refused application forms, while the men standing in line with them were able to get the forms.
• Women farmers were told by USDA officials that farming isn’t women’s work and to instead leave it to their husband, brother or father.
• Women farmers received applications but were denied loans although they were equally as qualified as their male neighbors who received loans.
• Women who initially received loans either through their husband or their father were denied subsequent loans or servicing on their existing farm loans.
While the African-American plaintiffs receiving redress through the Pigford settlements have been guaranteed a halt to new foreclosure actions while their claims are pending, American women farmers facing foreclosure are not similarly protected. Women farmer plaintiffs experiencing financial hardship are urged to contact RD Legal as soon as their settlement amounts are finalized.
Interim settlement financing can help women farmers sustain their farming way of life. Post-settlement financing does not require any kind of payments until the fee is paid; there are no monthly interest or principal payments, no upfront points or fees. Once the necessary documentation is received, RD Legal can wire funds within one to two days. RD Legal provides personalized service and quick turnaround.
Founded in 1997, RD Legal has established itself as one of the nation's leading providers of lawsuit settlement funding to attorneys and plaintiffs. Contact RD Legal Funding at 1-800-565-5177 for more information visit http://www.legalfunding.com.