Federal judge approves $1.25 billion settlement in discrimination case by black farmers

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A federal judge has approved a $1.25 billion settlement in a decades-old discrimination case by black farmers, clearing the way for them to seek compensation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for being left out of farm aid programs.

Abrams  File/Staff
File/Staff
Abrams

Still, about 14,000 farmers, including an original lead plaintiff from Waynesboro, Ga., have never received payment.

Thursday’s decision does help tens of thousands of farmers denied part of the original Pigford v. Glickman settlement from 1999 because they missed the filing deadline.

This second wave of claimants is known as Pigford II, and National Black Farmers Association President John Boyd said it was “a very important step that should provide assurance to the black farmers that each of their cases will now move toward a resolution” for that group.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman wrote in an order approving the agreement that by waiving the statute of limitations, Congress has redressed “the historic discrimination against African-American farmers.”

The black farmers reached the settlement with the government in February 2010 to compensate them for being left out of federal farm loan and assistance programs for years because of alleged racial discrimination.

The original Pigford class-action lawsuit, named after North Carolina farmer Tim­othy Pigford, was settled in 1999 for $1 billion, two years after a group of black farmers sued then-Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman.

Despite both settlements, two of the six original lead plaintiffs have never received payment.

Lucious Abrams, a Waynes­boro, Ga., cattle farmer and a lead plaintiff in the original case, lost thousands of acres of his farmland when the USDA denied him loans and farm assistance in the 1980s and ’90s.

After the 1999 settlement, Abrams and about 81,000 others were denied payment despite being able to prove they had applied for loans and received no help, according to research by the Environmental Working Group.

Abrams said Friday that the settlement was painful to hear because he and so many others have been forgotten.

“We’re still here suffering, we didn’t get justice and we can’t get nobody to listen to us,” he said. “It’s unreal. It’s like a nightmare.”

Abrams said he believes that through the Pigford II settlement, attorneys, judges and descendants of farmers who are no longer even working in agriculture prospered off the litigation while the original black farmers who brought the case have been neglected.

He said that although fewer than 20,000 farmers originally brought grievances in the case against the USDA, nearly 100,000 black farmers are now claiming cases.

“Is the money going to farmers, or is it going to people just ripping off the state treasury and the taxpayers of this country?” Abrams said. “This is one of the biggest conspiracies in history. The USDA, the lawyers, the judges are getting filthy rich, and people around here are starving.”

Reuters reports were used in this article.

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blackindependent
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blackindependent 10/29/11 - 07:09 am
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Tens of thousands of Black

Tens of thousands of Black farmers losing land and money due to discrimination by the Dept of Agriculture? In 1998? Darned racist Republicans! No. Wait. That was a DEMOCRAT administration! Never mind. Everybody knows Democrats CAN'T be racist.

seenitB4
79304
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seenitB4 10/29/11 - 07:30 am
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Is the money going to

Is the money going to farmers, or is it going to people just ripping off the state treasury and the taxpayers of this country?” Abrams said. “This is one of the biggest conspiracies in history. The USDA, the lawyers, the judges are getting filthy rich, and people around here are starving.”

This is the problem...isn't it....everytime a program is created to right a wrong this happens....so in the end the taxpayer gets it again!

Ozymandias
7
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Ozymandias 10/29/11 - 08:52 am
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Reading is fundamental! The

Reading is fundamental! The story clearly states the original case was "settled" in 1999. The discrimation took place over a few decades. Reagan, Bush and Clinton years. It also states "about 81,000 others were denied payment despite being able to prove they had applied for loans and received no help, according to research by the Environmental Working Group."
Ofcourse these farmers are simply "playing the race card".How dare they complain about being disriminated against when they are actually BEING discrimated against. Some things aren't political... they are just right and wrong!

seenitB4
79304
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seenitB4 10/29/11 - 09:17 am
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Well ok now...how far back

Well ok now...how far back should we go??

I'm a woman & didn't get to vote til 1920....so women haven't had a voice in years...well we did voice our opinion but not in elections...soooo politics has been skeweered to fit 1 point of view--should I sue over that??
Again if we are suing for misdeeds will the American Indian have a say about that...after all we did take their land & not so much as a thank you for it ...they took MUCH better care of the earth/rivers/mountains etc.
and we could go all the way back to caveman days....surely we took advantage of some weak fighters then too.....we might just go lawsuit crazy here...hey...we do that already though ....don't we..

dougk
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dougk 10/29/11 - 01:57 pm
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"skeweered?" And, that was
Unpublished

"skeweered?" And, that was only the beginning of mis-statements.

clumber
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clumber 10/29/11 - 07:32 pm
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There are no facts here to

There are no facts here to judge what happened. The taxpayers are indeed paying, but are not informed why, or who did it. More race cards and the vultures of law profiting.

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