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Friday, November 19, 2010

Senate Approves $1.15 Billion Settlement For Black Farmers

John Boyd
 The Senate has approved $1.15 billion to settle discrimination claims brought by black farmers against the Agriculture Department.  John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, lobbied continuously to get the legislation passed out of the Senate. The bill also included $3.4 billion for American Indians who said the Interior Department had swindled them out of royalties since the 19th century. The bill now goes to the House.

The legislation, approved by unanimous consent, also includes a one-year extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and several American Indian water rights settlements sought by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

To pay for the entire measure, money would be diverted from a surplus in nutrition programs for women and children and by extending customs user fees.

Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Claims Settlement Act of 2010
"I applaud the Senate for passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010, which will at long last provide funding for the agreements reached in the Pigford II lawsuit, brought by African American farmers, and the Cobell lawsuit, brought by Native Americans over the management of Indian trust accounts and resources. I particularly want to thank Attorney General Holder and Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack for their continued work to achieve this outcome. I urge the House to move forward with this legislation as they did earlier this year, and I look forward to signing it into law.

This bill also includes settlements for four separate water rights suits made by Native American tribes. I support these settlements and my Administration is committed to addressing the water needs of tribal communities. While these legislative achievements reflect important progress, they also serve to remind us that much work remains to be done. That is why my Administration also continues to work to resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers against the USDA."
(USA Today, 11/19/2010)

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