After years of protests and lawsuits, black farmers in the south will begin receiving payments this week as a result of a $1.2 billion settlement in their discrimination case against federal agriculture officials. About 18,000 farmers in total are expected to receive checks over the next few days.
This is the second round of funding for black farmers. Thousands received payments in 1999 as part of a settlement in a class-action suit over allegations of widespread discrimination by federal officials who denied loans and other assistance to black farmers because of their race.
“After all these years and all the fighting, this is what it’s all about,” says John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, which pushed Congress for the settlement. “It doesn’t take away what the government has done to us, but for those who receive the payments it will make a difference in their lives.”
About 40,000 black farmers filed claims in the $1.2 billion settlement, which ended a discrimination case against the United States Department of Agriculture. In 2010, President Obama signed the bill authorizing compensation for discrimination in farm lending by federal officials. Black farmers will receive settlement payments of $62,500, including $50,000 for the claim and $12,500 for taxes. Of the $1.2 billion, about $91 million was approved for attorney fees.