Saturday, May 29, 2010

House Approves $1.15 billion for Black Farmer Fund

NBFA Lobbyist John Boyd

Funds Are for Settlement of Discrimination Case

Senate Approval is Next Step for Pigford II Fund

The U.S. House of Representatives approved $1.15 billion on Friday to compensate black farmers for discrimination by the Agriculture Department in a major civil rights settlement. The settlement in the case known as Pigford II granted $1.25 billion to black farmers who are part of a decades-old discrimination suit against the Agriculture Department after years of being left out of federal farm loan and assistance programs due to racism. But the deal reached in February cannot be upheld unless Congress approves $1.15 billion for the settlement. The 2008 farm law earmarked $100 million for compensation.

The $1.15 billion was included in a part of a $79 billion package of tax cuts and benefit extensions. Representatives passed the bill by a 215-204 vote and sent it to the Senate. The bill provides $4.6 billion to pay out settlements not only in the Pigford case but also for American Indians in a class-action lawsuit with the Interior Department over the mismanagement of Indian trust fund accounts. (Reuters, Optionetics, 5/28/10)

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