FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2009
Contact: Katie Laning Niebaum, Leah Vest DiPietro
Lincoln Works To Ensure African-American Farmers Receive Funds They Are Entitled To
Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln has co-sponsored legislation that ensures African-American farmers who filed Pigford settlement claims as a result of the 2008 farm bill will receive the money they are entitled to.
“All farmers regardless of race deserve the same resources to build their businesses and support their families. This legislation would help ensure that every Arkansas farmer – and farmers all across the nation – can compete in today’s marketplace and have the same opportunities for success,” said Lincoln.
The 2008 farm bill included funding to help African-American farmers who were denied entry into the Pigford v. Glickman settlement, a 1999 landmark class action lawsuit that maintained the U.S. Department of Agriculture and county commissioners discriminated against African-American farmers when they denied or delayed their applications for farm loans and other credit and benefit programs.
The bill Lincoln has cosponsored ensures that once the $100 million authorized in the farm bill is spent, successful claimants will still be able to receive the funding to which they are entitled.
“We appreciate Senator Lincoln’s leadership in helping America’s black farmers. We have been waiting for nearly a decade. The Senator’s support places us one step closer to justice,” said John W. Boyd, Jr., President of the National Black Farmers Association.
The legislation would:
· Allow claimants to access the $100 million already appropriated in the farm bill; once that money is expended, claimants would gain access to the Department of Treasury permanent appropriated judgment fund.
· Allow reasonable attorney fees, administrative costs, and expenses to be paid from the judgment fund in accordance with the 1999 consent decree.
· Include a section making fraud related to claims a criminal offense with punishment of a fine or up to five years in prison or both.