Analyst in Natural Resources and Rural Development
On April 14, 1999, Federal District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman approved a settlement agreement and consent decree resolving a class action discrimination suit (commonly known as the Pigford case) between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and black farmers. The suit claimed that the agency had discriminated against black farmers on the basis of race and failed to investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983-1997. The deadline for submitting a claim as a class member was September 12, 2000. Many voiced concern over the structure of the settlement agreement, the large number of applicants who filed late, and reported deficiencies in representation by class counsel. A provision in the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246) permits any claimant in the Pigford decision who has not previously obtained a determination on the merits of a Pigford claim to petition in civil court to obtain such a determination. A maximum of $100 million dollars was also authorized for new claims settlements. The Administration also requested an additional $1.15 billion for FY2010. No funding was appropriated. This report highlights some of the events that led up to the Pigford class action suit and outlines the structure of the settlement agreement. It also discusses the number of claims reviewed, denied, and awarded, and some of the issues raised by various parties. .
Date of Report: February 16, 2010
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS20430
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Monday, March 1, 2010