Earlier this week, federal judge Paul Friedman approved a settlement proposed by the Department of Agriculture that would end a decades old struggle between black farmers and the USDA. Claiming that they had been the subject of ongoing racial discrimination, particularly with regards to the availability of federal loans, thousands of black farmers joined a class action lawsuit against the USDA.
After a settlement was initial agreed upon, ending the lawsuit itself, the farmers in question found themselves having to jump through several more hoops in order to appease an austerity obsessed Congress and lawsuits to block the implementation of the settlement. Judge Friedman’s ruling clears the way for the settlement to go through.
Up to 68,000 African American farmers who can demonstrate discrimination by the USDA could be eligible for a part of the $1.25 billion settlement. Qualified claimants could receive one of two payments, an uncontested $50,000 payment, or up to $250,000 if damages can be documented and substantiated.
In a statement after the judge’s ruling, President Obama said, “[this] is another important step forward in addressing an unfortunate chapter in USDA’s civil rights history. This agreement will provide overdue relief and justice to African-American farmers and bring us closer to the ideals of freedom and equality that this country was founded on.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer