after years of protests and lawsuits, black farmers in the south will begin receiving payments this week as a result of a landmark $1.2 billion settlement in their discrimination case against federal agriculture officials. about 18,000 farmers expect to receive checks over the next few days.
this is the second round of funding for black farmers. thousands received payments in 1999 as part of a settlement in a class-action suit over allegation of widespread discrimination by federal officials who denied loans and other assistance to black farmers on the basis of their race.
"after all these years and all the fighting, this is what it's all about," says john boyd, president of the national black farmers association, which pushed congress for the settlement. "it doesn't take away what the government has done to us, but for those who receive the payments it will make a difference in their lives," said boyd.
about 40,000 black farmers filed claims in the settlement, ending a discrimination case against the u.s. department of agriculture. in 2010, president obama signed the bill authorizing compensation for discrimination in farm lending by federal officials. black farmers will receive payments of $62,500, which includes $50,000 for the claim and $12,500 for taxes. about $91 million of the settlement was approved for attorney fees.
"i am pleased this chapter of discrimination in the history of the department of agriculture is closed and bureaucracy will no longer keep these farmers from receiving their due justice," said representative marcia fudge (d-ohio). fudge also serves as chairwoman of the congressional black caucus.
the payments could lead to an infusion of investment dollars back into farming, adds adell brown, jr., vice chancellor for research at southern university agricultural research and extension center. the center has worked with black famers in louisiana who filed claims in the first and second cases.
many farmers who filed claims have since died. of the 18,000 claims approved, about 4,000 to 5,000 were estate claims. the national black farmers association is working with some families whose deceased parents filed claims. said boyd, "this is not a great trade-off by any means, but i think the funds will make a difference. it's a bittersweet victory."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.