Resource: Garcia v. Vilsack: A Policy and Legal Analysisof a USDA Discrimination Case

By: Jody Feder & Tadlock Cowan

February 22, 2013

Congressional Research Service

Garcia v. Vilsack, involved allegations that USDA unlawfully discriminated against all similarly situated Hispanic farmers with respect to credit transactions and disaster benefits in violation of the ECOA, which prohibits, among other things, race, color, and national origin discrimination against credit applicants. The suit further claimed that USDA violated the ECOA and the APA by systematically failing to investigate complaints of discrimination, as required by USDA regulations. After nearly a decade of litigation and numerous rulings on procedural and substantive issues, the Garcia plaintiffs exhausted their final avenue of appeal to have their claims heard as a class action. As a result, the Garcia plaintiffs who wish to pursue their available claims in court must do so individually, or they and other eligible Hispanic farmers may participate in a settlement process established by USDA.