Bill introduced to fund settlement with black farmers

WASHINGTON — A bill has finally been introduced in the U.S. Senate to fund the $1.15-billion settlement reached between black farmers and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack back in February.

Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) yesterday introduced the bill that would fund the payback to black farmers in the Pigford discrimination case.

“We want to ensure black farmers in our country finally receive the justice they deserve,” said Hagan. “More than 4,000 African American farmers in North Carolina and over 75,000 nationwide have been discriminated against and denied just compensation for decades.”

The bill would ensure that African American farmers who were unfairly discriminated against by the USDA when applying for loans, credit and other forms of financial help, will receive the settlement to which they are entitled. Congress has thus far failed to appropriate the funding.

“This injustice has gone on for far too long,” said Landrieu. She added that lawmakers’ options are running out, and that’s why she and her colleagues introduced this standalne bill.

“We will try to attach this bill to any moving legislative vehicle in the Senate. But if the political environment is such that no bill is moving, Senate leadership will need to call up this stand alone bill and debate it on its merits. I think that Senate leadership is going to need to take a good, long look at that option,” Landrieu said

More than 75,000 African American farmers across the nation are waiting for Congress to appropriate the $1.1- billion settlement.

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