Obama Proposes $1.25 Billion for Black Farmers in Settlement - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue


Black farmers rallied in Washington D.C. last week to receive payment from USDA discrimination settlement. (Source: Washington State House Republicans)

President Barack Obama has allotted $1.25 billion in the FY 2010 budget to settle discrimination lawsuits by thousands of black farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This is an issue I worked on in the Senate, and I’m pleased that we are now able to close this chapter in the agency’s history and move on,” Obama said in a statement Wednesday. “My hope is that the farmers and their families who were denied access to USDA loans and programs will be made whole and will have the chance to rebuild their lives and their businesses.”

Although he calls the settlement a “huge step in the right direction,” National Black Farmers Association President John Boyd said that more money is needed.

“We need around $2.7 billion to compensate all of the eligible farmers,” said Boyd. “We are appreciative that the administration is in dialogue with us, but as the advocate for [black farmers] I want to make sure there are enough funds to compensate all eligible farmers.”

The black farmers’ case named after one of the original plaintiffs, Timothy Pigford, a black farmer from North Carolina, was settled in 1999. The USDA agreed to pay farmers for past discrimination in lending and other USDA programs. Nearly $1 billion in damages were paid out on almost 16,000 claims, but nearly 75,000 additional black farmers filed their claims after the deadline.

Boyd says that the USDA did not effectively notify the farmers that there was a settlement, or where farmers could file their complaints. He said that farmers who didn’t have telephones or indoor bathrooms were told to go online for more information about the settlement.

“The USDA was supposed to provide that information and they didn’t. We got the word out ourselves on very limited funds,” says Boyd. “There was no ad campaign.”
As a senator, Obama led the charge to pass the 2008 farm bill allowing the government to reopen the case to farmers who missed the deadline.

Earlier this week, Sens. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa), and Kay Hagan, (D-N.C.), introduced legislation that would allow access to an unlimited judgment fund at the Department of Treasury to pay successful claims that were not part of the original lawsuit. With the additional claims, some estimate the case could cost the government another $2 billion or $3 billion.

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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