Black Farmers Call on U.S. Senate to Fund Settlement

CNN, September 7, 2010

The head of the National Black Farmers Association renewed his call Tuesday for Congress to fund a historic discrimination case settlement involving minority farmers.

He slammed the sharply divided Senate for repeatedly stripping funding provisions from different bills, and urged President Obama to call for a decisive vote on the measure by the end of September.

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Boyd said black farmers are losing land at a rate three times faster than other agricultural workers. He said that it takes nearly 400 days to process a black farmer’s loan request at the Agriculture Department, compared with less than 30 days for white farmers.

“Congress has money for everything–to bail out banks, Wall Street, AIG, everybody,” he said. But “we can’t seem to get this done. There is something terribly wrong with that picture.”

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Last month, the U.S. Senate failed to approve $1.25 billion for the settlement between the U.S. Agriculture Department and black farmers, prompting finger-pointing by members of both parties and outrage among many black farmers.

“We are very, very, very disappointed that we are just caught up in such a larger political fight in the Senate, where it’s just partisan division,” Boyd said after the August 5 outcome.

A 1997 case against the Agriculture Department, Pigford v. Glickman, was settled out of court 11 years ago, but tens of thousands of farmers missed the filing deadline to submit claims.

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[Other articles on the Agriculture Department’s pay-off to black farmers are listed here. “Who Wants to Be a Black Millionaire?” can be read here.]

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