Hispanic Farmers Want Class Action Status

New Mexico – Hispanic farmers who say the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against them are fighting to sue the federal agency as a group.

Latino farmers across the country argue they lost their land or suffered other consequences when the USDA denied or delayed loans to them, while extending help to white farmers.

Black farmers who filed a similar suit in 1999 have received a $1 billion settlement on 15,000 claims.

Latino farmers filed their suit nine years ago. They are now fighting to get class certification.

The Department of Justice, which is representing the USDA, says the farmers need to argue their cases individually. The attorney representing the farmers has appealed their case to the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.