UPDATE: “Congress failed to approve $1.15 billion by a March 31 deadline so now the Obama administration cannot allocate $1.25 billion to settle decades-old discrimination lawsuits with black farmers. The deal, one of the largest civil rights settlements in history, was to compensate black farmers left out of federal farm loan and assistance programs due to racism. Lawmakers left for a 2 week break on Friday without approving the deal, leaving it in limbo.” ~aaenvironment.blogspot.com
Surprise, surprise some farmers are actually Black! These farmers are upset about discrimination they have faced over the years in U.S. Department of Agriculture programs. The Black farmers say they have been systematically denied loans, crop subsidies and government aid while their white counterparts did not. I guess that’s why some call the USDA â€œthe last plantation”.
In 2008, lawmakers set up a system to review claims of racial bias from over 70,000 farmers who they denied various types of farm support by the USDA.
President Barack Obama has proposed including more than a $1 billion to cover the compensation claims in the 2010 farm bill, but congress has yet to approve the 2010 farm bill. It seems congress and the president have been tied up with health care. For the president to have pushed for this in the first place shows he is actually standing up for some Black folks. All that’s needed is for the job that was started to be finished and for that the president and the Black farmers will have to go through congress.
The farmers are anxiously waiting for congress to appropriate $1.15 billion for their compensation. The settlement was reached with the USDA on February 18 and congress has until March 31, next Wednesday, to appropriate that money or the settlement, known as Pigford II, will expire.
[Missing the deadline] would mean missing another planting season, more black farmers going out of business, more black farmers dying waiting for justice…
These farmers are old, and they don’t have all this time to wait.” ~ John Boyd Jr, head of the National Black Farmers Association. via reuters.com
Based on the woes getting health care passed through congress although the settlement is already there this may still not be an easy sell.
After decades of ignoring discrimination claims by Black farmers Pigford II was finally filed as a class action lawsuit in 1997.
The press conference on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) is planned on Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers and the administration to hold up their end of the deal.