U.S. Senate offers black farmers $1.15 billion settlement

Black chicken farmer with chicken coop battery cages in the 1950s.

Black farmers who faced discriminatory lending practices for farm loans will finally receive reparations. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Sloan/Wikipedia)

CNN reports that the U.S. Senate has unanimously decided to pay a $1.15 billion settlement for black farmers. The settlement is for the 1997 court case Pigford v. Glickman, in which black farmers sued the U.S. Agriculture Department for racial discrimination in farm loan lending practices.

Black farmers won Pigford v. Glickman in 1999

Since 1999, the reparations funds for black farmers have been held up in Congress. The federal judge’s ruling in 1999 was that qualified black and minority farmers would be eligible to receive $50,000 each as a settlement of any claims of racial bias used against them. Farmers had to be able to prove that they were victims of discrimination.

Many are pleased with the Senate’s decision

John Boyd, the founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, was ecstatic over the Senate’s belated movement, calling it “much long overdue justice.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recognized the long-suffering plight of black American farmers. It was necessary closure, in the senator’s estimation, and the bipartisan agreement showed that despite the changes the recent midterm elections have brought to both houses of Congress, Democrats and Republicans could “come together to do the right thing,” said Reid.

Senate also cleared $3.4 billion for Native American trust fund

In the same legislation that granted reparation to black farmers, the Senate set aside $3.4 billion to make up for the Department of the Interior’s erroneous use of a national trust fund maintained for Native American peoples. The House had agreed to this payment via a war supplemental bill back in July 2010, but the Senate could not agree on the terms at that time, largely because some senators were hesitant to approve the package if it involved more deficit spending than the U.S. economy could adequately handle.

All that remains for the black farmers measure is approval by the House and President Obama’s signature.



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