Las Cruces, NM (AP)--One of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by Hispanic farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to involve other minorities.

Guadalupe L. Garcia Jr. alleges he lost his farm because of unfair federal farm lending practices. He says his requests for loans were repeatedly turned down or delayed while Anglo farmers received money.

Garcia has turned the loss of his farm into a mission and is now trying to involve other ethnic groups.

"I'm trying to put together a group so that we'll have more national impact," Garcia said. "We have Hispanic and black representatives and senators supporting us in Congress. But if we could get these different groups together, we could have representation in the hundreds."

Garcia is one of 98 plaintiffs who filed a $20 billion civil action lawsuit against Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 20,000 Hispanic farmers and ranchers.

Garcia said he wants to rally Blacks--although they have already won a similar case--American Indians, Asians and women to the cause.

"The government should follow the same farmer loan regulations with minorities as they do with whites. The government has been dealing with the different minority groups one at a time. But they all have the same problems, and with one large group we'd have more political clout," he said.

At one time, the Garcia family farmed 650 acres in southern New Mexico. They raised onions, lettuce, chili, cotton, alfalfa and corn silage.

In the 1980s, financial problems began. Hail damaged emerging plants, early freezes damaged chili pods and flooding prevented him from harvesting crops.

Garcia said he applied to the former Farm Home Administration, later named the Farm Service Agency, for financing and farm debt restructuring. But he was denied.

Garcia currently sells drip irrigation systems and fertilizer in Mexico for a living.

Farm Services Agency state Executive Director Paul Gutierrez told the Las Cruces Sun-News he could not comment on the lawsuit.

"Since the Hispanic farmers' suit is in litigation, at the advice of our attorneys, I'm not at liberty to talk about it," he said.

The USDA has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Black farmers who filed a discrimination lawsuit, Pigford vs. Glickman, won and each black farmer received $50,000.

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