Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

African American Farmers To Receive Compensation

For America's Black farmers the tenth time is the charm.

African American farmers will finally receive the $1.15 billion owed to them that was settled out of court over 11 years ago in a case that involved discrimination on the part of the U.S. Agricultural Department.

Under a federal judge's terms, dated in 1999, qualified farmers could receive $50,000 each to settle the claims of racial bias.

John Boyd, farmer and founder of the web site, has been in the forefront of this battle, having been on many TV and radio shows, and on Capitol Hill (see our coverage here) to bring the plight of America's Black farmers to the national stage.

Boyd called the historic announcement "vindication and justice".

"This case was about justice for Black farmers who waited for so very long."  

Boyd pointed out that many African American farmers died and others lost land waiting for Congress, (specifically Tom Coburn) to make a decision.

Senator Harry Reid, along with other members of Congress (Bobby Scott, John Conyers, and Kay Hagan) who worked to see that justice was upheld said, "The agreement that we reached shows what can happen when Democrats and Republicans come together to do the right thing."

The bill (Claims Settlement Act of 2010) also provides funding for settlements reached in four separate water rights suits brought by Native American tribes, as well as represents a significant step forward in addressing the water needs of Indian Country.

Despite the bill's passing, President Obama remarked that while the vote "demonstrates important progress, there is more work that needs to be done."

The USDA has several other claims that must be paid, not just to Black farmers, but Indian (Cobell lawsuit)and Latino farmers as well.

The president said his administration will continue its efforts to "resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers, and others, in a fair and timely manner."

USDA Secretary Reacts

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