Despite Settlement, Black Farmers Still Waiting to Get Paid

Despite Settlement, Black Farmers Still Waiting to Get Paid

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WASHINGTON—U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement on the need for congressional action to fund the Pigford II settlement agreement:

"Black farmers throughout the country unfortunately faced discrimination in past decades when trying to obtain services from USDA. This discrimination is well-documented, the courts have affirmed this discrimination, and Congress has twice acknowledged the need to settle with those who have suffered from this discrimination. It is now time for Congress to pass the funding so the victims of this discrimination can get the opportunity to receive the compensation that they are due.

"While members of Congress have noted the bipartisan support for this legislation, it is time for Congress to turn their support into action and fund the settlement agreement once and for all. The time for Congressional action to fund the settlement agreement is running out, and the victims of this discrimination should not need to wait a day longer.

Congress should not leave today without exhausting every option for passing legislation that provides for the funding.

Pigford v. Glickman was a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleging racial discrimination in its allocation of farm loans and assistance between 1983 and 1997. The lawsuit ended with a settlement in which the U.S. government agreed to pay African American farmers US$50,000 each if they had attempted to get USDA help but failed. To date, almost US$1 billion has been paid or credited to the farmers under the settlement's consent decree.

The lawsuit was filed in 1997 by Timothy Pigford, who was joined by 400 additional African American farmer plaintiffs. Dan Glickman, the Secretary of Agriculture, was the nominal defendant. The allegations were that the USDA treated black farmers unfairly when deciding to allocate price support loans, disaster payments, "farm ownership" loans, and operating loans, and that the USDA had completely failed to process subsequent complaints about racial discrimination.[1]

After the lawsuit was filed, Pigford requested blanket mediation to cover what was thought to be about 2,000 farmers who may have been discriminated against, but the U.S. Department of Justice opposed the mediation, saying that each case had to be investigated separately. As the case moved toward trial, the presiding judge certified as a class all black farmers who filed discrimination complaints against the USDA between 1983 and 1997.

The plaintiffs settled with the government in 1999. Under the consent decree, all African American farmers would be paid a "virtually automatic" US$50,000 plus granted certain loan forgiveness and tax offsets. This process was called "Track A."

Alternatively, affected farmers could follow the "Track B" process, seeking a larger payment by presenting a greater amount of evidence--the legal standard in this case was to have a preponderance of evidence along with evidence of greater damages.

In 2004, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association filed a US$20.5 billion class action lawsuit against the USDA for the same practices, alleging racially discriminatory practices between 1997 and 2004. The lawsuit was dismissed when the BFAA failed to show it had standing to bring the suit.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Oct 19 2010

Congress need to pay up those peoples today...

Anonymous

Posted Oct 20 2010

I hope blacks realize that Congress has been a Democrat majority since 2006, and they have not passed this funding bill. So keep thinking that the Democrats are for blacks. They are only out for your vote and to enslave your mind to think that you are a victim and that you are deserving of entitlements. We are a free people and we have a mind and the skill to do and be whatever we want without government trying to help us. History shows that the Government war on poverty, education, and drugs, has not worked. We are poorer, less educated, more dependent on drugs and have spent billions, if not trillions of dollars. Social Security and Medicare is bankrupt. You are paying into the SS and Medicare system and the likelihood of receiving those benefits are becoming unlikely each day. And now we are trusting that they will do a better job with our Healthcare??? Government is costly and inefficient. Democrats normally are more charitable with other peoples money. Why are they not charitable to the farmers? Because these individuals are working class and produce something that we need. If you research throughout the country every major city with predominately black Americans-- they are Democrats. And look at the area its always poverty stricken, no jobs, dilapidated homes, few businesses(mostly carry outs), and dependent upon welfare. Can anyone see that IT IS NOT WORKING? WAKE UP Black America and stop voting for these people. Try the other side and see if that works. The saying goes if you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expects different results. IT'S called INSANITY. So what do you have to loose? I believe you have more to gain! So, please vote based on the principles and values not the party. Stop putting the blame on Republicans calling them racists because to me it appears that the Democrats are more racists.

Anonymous

Posted Oct 24 2010

i like this

Anonymous

Posted Oct 25 2010

I hope it dont be to late for me to hold my check and say the GOv. did good by the black farmers .before i pass on anonymous.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 4 2010

I think that we all need to pray and trust god and not the people we vote for.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 11 2010

that is so true trust in god not man if it was there money it would have been paid a long time ago look at the bail out well the farmers need their bail out

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