Victory Slipping Away for Black Farmers

Darryl Fears, Washington Post, Jul. 20

The Department of Agriculture has denied payments to almost 90 percent of black farmers who sought compensation for discrimination under a landmark court settlement the agency reached with African American growers five years ago, according to a report set for release today by a Washington-based environmental group.

A two-year investigation by the Environmental Working Group found that USDA officials contracted Justice Department lawyers to aggressively fight the farmers’ claims after the settlement of the $3 billion class-action lawsuit. Of the 94,000 growers who sought restitution for discrimination in a process set up by the court, 81,000 were turned away, the report says.

The report, funded by the Ford Foundation, said the USDA’s actions “willfully obstructed justice” and “deliberately undermined” the spirit of the settlement.

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