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Wed, 04.14.1999

Pigford v. Glickman is Decided

*On this date in 1999, Pigford v. Glickman was decided.  This was a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleging racial discrimination against Black farmers in allocating farm loans and assistance between 1981 and 1996.  

After Shirley and Charles Sherrod lost their farm when they could not secure United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans, they became class action plaintiffs in the civil suit Pigford v. Glickman.  Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia settled the lawsuit.  To date, almost $1 billion dollars has been paid or credited to more than 13,300 farmers under the settlement's consent decree.  This is one of the largest 20th-century civil rights settlements.  As another 70,000 farmers had filed late and not had their claims heard, the 2008 Farm Bill provided for additional claims to be heard.

In December 2010, Congress appropriated $1.2 billion for Pigford II, a settlement for the second part of the case.  In 2004, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association (BFAA) filed a US$20.5 billion class action lawsuit against the USDA for the same practices, alleging racially discriminatory practices between 1997 and 2004. The lawsuit was dismissed when the BFAA failed to show it had standing to bring the suit. Legislative language was added to the 2008 Farm Bill to enable more farmers to bring suit and to authorize the government to negotiate additional monies for settlement. Congress appropriated the money for the settlement later that year. Successful claimants in Pigford II had to wait until 2013 to receive their settlement awards.   

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