US SENATE PASSES FUNDING FOR PIGFORD II BLACK FARMER RACIAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
BILL ALSO CONTAINS REPAYMENT TO NATIVE AMERICANS UNDER COBELL SETTLEMENT FOR THE MISMANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
In February of this year the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Justice announced a settlement to provide as many as 70,000 African American farmers, many of whom suffered blatant racial discrimination at the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for decades, with cash damage awards and debt relief. This settlement is known as the Pigford II settlement. Sadly, efforts to appropriate the $1.25 billion necessary to fund Pigford II have consistently stalled in the U. S. Senate (the money has twice been approved by the U.S. House so far this year, only to be struck both times by the Senate). These claims cannot even begin to be investigated, let alone settled, until after Congress has appropriated the funding. Similarly, the $1.41 billion needed to fund an agreement between the US Department of Interior and Native American Indians over centuries of land abuse and mismanagement by the US government and lost royalty funds, known as the Cobell settlement, had heretofore been stalled in the United States Senate.
Late in the evening of November 19, 2010, however, and due in large part to the consistent efforts of Senators Harry Reid (NV), Chuck Grassley (IA) and others the United States Senate passed a bill to fund the Pigford II and Cobell settlements. The bill must pass the House of Representatives before the Congress adjourns in December, and will then go to the President for his signature.
There is an urgency to pass this appropriation to settle the class action lawsuits of African-American farmers and Native Americans. Many of the farmers who would qualify for monies under the settlement have waited as long as 10 years to be compensated; some have already died or lost their farms. After years of discriminatory treatment by USDA credit and program agencies, these farm families have already waited almost a decade for compensation for these well-established claims. It is time to allow these farmers to focus on the future, and move forward unencumbered by the racial discrimination of the past.
THE NAACP URGES THE HOUSE TO NOW ACT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE TO FULLY FUND THE PIGFORD II AND COBELL SETTLEMENTS. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!!!