Study: USDA still plagued by civil rights problems

By MARY CLARE JALONICK | May 11, 2011 | 10:28 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new report says the Agriculture Department is still plagued by civil rights problems after decades of discrimination against minorities seeking farm loans and other services.

The $8 million study by a private consulting firm was commissioned by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2009 as part of an effort to correct longstanding problems.

The study shows a lack of diversity in rural offices and a lack of outreach to minorities seeking loans. It includes more than 200 recommendations for the department to better serve those minorities.

Vilsack said Wednesday that the department has already implemented some of the recommendations.