Black farmers who have alleged discrimination at the hand of the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been given an extended opportunity to take part in USDA financial settlements.
Between 1981 and 1996, black farmers alleged that the USDA and USDA agricultural lenders systematically denied African Americans access to farm credit. Some farmers were turned down for loans ostensibly due to a lack of education, despite the fact that they possessed bachelor’s degrees in agriculture. Some black farmers, who had run agricultural businesses for several years, were turned down for a supposed lack of farm experience.
Whatever the immediate rational, these farmers say, the real underlying factor was race.
In the 1990s, black famers sued the government. In 1999, Pigford v. Glickman was settled out of court. 15,000 black farmers who had suffered from discriminatory lending could claim part of a $1 billion settlement.
Court rulings in October extended the deadline for applications, allowing farmers who suffered discrimination, and their direct relatives, to file for a portion of the settlement by May 11. In addition, the rulings and later Congressional action increased the final settlement to $1.2 billion. Some lawyers involved in the case believe that extending the deadline could allow up to 50,000 farmers to take part in the final settlement.
While the ruling is good news for farmers whose businesses suffered because of prejudice, some farmers are unhappy that the settlement agreements remain restrictive, covering only a very narrow chronological window. In addition, some farmers are unhappy that applicants who are rejected automatically waive their right to appeal.
To learn more about agricultural financing opportunities contact a Farm Plus Financial representative by calling 866-929-5585 or by visiting www.farmloans.com.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer