Senate Fails to Approve Settlement for Minority Farmers

By Jason Beahm on August 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The U.S. Senate did not approve a $4.6 billion settlement between black farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The settlement, which was based on the 1997 case of Pigford v. Glickman, was first reached in 1999. The case arose when Timothy Pigford, a black farmer from North Carolina, alleged that the USDA discriminated in the way it awarded loans and other aid to farmers.

The government earlier paid over $1 billion to approximately 16,000 farmers to settle the case for about $50,000 per farmer. However tens of thousands of additional farmers argue that their claims were rejected because they filed their claims after the deadline.

The House approved a bill in July that included money to pay the additional settlement claims. Under the settlement, qualified black farmers would have received $50,000 per person to settle the lawsuit over racial bias.

"It seems like for the trains leaving the station in the Senate, they manage not to have the black farmers on them," John Boyd, founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association said to CNN, calling on President Barack Obama to step up to the cause. "Everyone that steps to the microphone says they support the black farmers ... But they can't put aside their political bickering so the black farmers can get on with their lives."

Both parties say they support resolving the black farmers claims of discrimination by U.S. federal agencies. However, funding has yet to be secured as republicans and democrats fight over issues of spending and deficits. CNN reports the money to pay the settlement was originally earmarked by the House in a war supplemental bill.

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