Black farmers will get a second chance
It looks like America’s Black farmers – one of the nation’s most dissed group of workers – will get a second chance to apply for money owed in a historic discrimination settlement. Congressional leaders say that one of the first orders of business when they reconvene later this month will be to tweak a giant farm bill that not only guides the Agriculture Department’s policy on crops, but it will give African-American farmers a fresh opportunity to apply for almost $1 billion in compensation that resulted from the 1999 settlement of the Pigford case, lodged by Black farmers who argued that they had been systemically denied loans and other USDA aid. Some 15,000 farmers were awarded damages in the case – about $50,000 apiece – but 64,000 claims were dismissed because the claimants missed the filing deadline, and another 6,000 claims were denied on grounds that they lacked merit. Both the House and Senate passed legislation last year that allow for the claims to be reheard. They will be in a comprehensive farm bill before Congress in late January. “This will give farmers the opportunity to have their cases heard on merit,” said John Boyd, president of National Black Farmers Association.