October 28, 2011
On Thursday, October 27, 2011, a District Court Judge issued a motion to approve the settlement in the Pigford II black farmers’ class action discrimination lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The settlement provides $1.25 billion for tens of thousands of black farmers who were discriminated against by USDA in the 1980s and 1990, and who failed to meet the deadline of October 12, 1999 to file cases in what became known as “Pigford I” (or Pigford v. Glickman).
The 2008 farm bill included a provision that allowed the Pigford I case to be reopened, but only provided $100 million for the settlement. In 2010, Congress passed legislation which allowed an additional $1.15 billion to be provided for settling cases that had not been filed in the original discrimination lawsuit against USDA. NSAC worked in support of both funding bills.
Under the recent decision, as many as 68,000 African-American farmers who filed claims between 1999 and 2008 could apply for monetary relief as part of the settlement. “So many farmers had ever given up hope that this would ever come to pass,” said John Boyd, the head of the National Black Farmers Association.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak said in a statement about the Pigford II settlement the decision is “an important step to ensure some level of justice for black farmers and ranchers who faced discrimination when trying to obtain services from USDA.”
Attorney General Eric Holder also issued a statement,saying the settlement “allows the Department of Agriculture and African-American farmers to focus on the future, and brings us one step closer to giving these farmers a chance to have their claims heard.”
To read the case report by the United States District Court, click here.
Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers