Senate stops stalling Pigford settlement
Black farmers on the track to getting justice
After months of going back and forth, the Senate has finally approved the funding for the historic Pigford lawsuit, which will allocate $1.15 billion to Black farmers who faced discrimination at the hands of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to Associated Press, this is the second round of funding from a class-action lawsuit originally settled in 1999 over allegations of widespread discrimination by local agriculture department offices in awarding loans and other forms of aid. It is known as the Pigford case, named after Timothy Pigford, a Black farmer from North Carolina, who was an original plaintiff.
The federal government has already paid out more than $1 billion to about 16,000 farmers, with most getting payments of about $50,000. The new money is intended for people—some estimates say 70,000 or 80,000—who were denied earlier payments, because they missed deadlines for filing. The amount of money each would get depends on how many claims are successfully filed.
The Senate also cleared $3.4 billion to fund a separate settlement reached with the Department of Interior for their mishandling of a trust fund managed for Native Americans.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved a bill that included money to pay for the settlements but the Senate failed to approve the measure. Sen. Tom Coburn, who cast the sole “no” vote the last time the bill was voted on, dropped his objection to its passage last week, after Senate leaders agreed not to finance the payments through additional deficit spending.
The House approved the new version of the bill Tuesday, and the bill, now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama, where he will be responsible for signing it into law.
The U.S. District Court approved a settlement in the ongoing saga between Black farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) providing an additional $1.2 billion for thousands of plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit.
The court-ordered process of officially notifying African American farmers and their heirs about the $1.25 billion “Pigford II” class action settlement is under way.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Court-ordered process of officially notifying African American farmers and their heirs about the $1.25 billion “Pigford II” class action settlement, In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, is underway.
Class members should visit www.BlackFarmerCase.com or call 1-877-810-8110 for complete information, including the detailed notice, key dates, and claims-filing information.
Taking Black people off the land—when they have been able to buy and occupy it—whether by starving Black owners of funds, seeds and farm equipment; by outright KKK-type murder and intimidation, or through other nefarious means, has been as regular in America as night following day.
This has especially been the case in the agricultural sector, where making a living was never easy even for the hardworking and resilient.
With a sloped back, cracked hands, and veined and muscled arms, Destin Samford, a sharecropper now generations away from Minkah, his African ancestor, cultivates a field in Alabama. In August, he turns away from the white-orange sun fading against a wine-colored sky to scan the earth speckled with cotton bolls framed by green leaves. He bends, back curved and crooked in places, to pull a boll of cotton from the tough spiny casing, marking the beginning of the harvest.
- Diane Glave
History Of Black Farmers And Their Loss