Indian Farmers Lawsuit

WASHINGTON (AP) - Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the Agriculture Department say the government's own data show that
American Indian farmers lost hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of loan discrimination at the agency.

The plaintiffs' attorneys were slated to discuss specifics at a news conference Wednesday in Washington. Their estimate was developed by an economist hired as an expert witness.

The case, which could start trial later this year, was filed in 1999 by Indian farmers and ranchers who say USDA offices tried to squeeze them out of business by denying them loans that instead went to whites.

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