In October of 2001, nine of the approximately (at that time) 150,000 women farmers in the US filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for discrimination against women farmers in the administration of USDA farm loans.
Rosemary Love (center in the photo), who had grown up on a Montana farm and then became a rancher herself, had applied for a farm loan in Montana after a series of natural disasters during the economic recession of the 1980s. Although male ranchers all around her were being given loans by the (all-male) FSA decision-makers, her applications were repeatedly denied. When a loan was finally approved, it was with the imposition of the harshest of conditions, among them, that she must liquidate her ranching operations. She was the only rancher upon whom such loan conditions were imposed. She developed cancer, and during her treatment, she was hounded by USDA authorities about completing the liquidation. At one point, 48 hours after she had undergone cancer surgery, an FSA supervisor visited her in the hospital demanding that she comply or agree to the filing of yet more government liens against her property. She could not run her farm, her animals were going without food as she lie ill, and finally, she sold her sheep and livestock to male ranchers in her area and declared bankruptcy. She was left with nothing but her land. She went to work at a grocery store as a sales clerk. Continue reading