Baton Rouge, La - After years of waiting, black farmers began receiving payments this week as part of a $1.2 billion settlement in their discrimination case against federal agriculture officials.
Of the $1.2 billion, about $91 million was approved for attorney fees. About 18,000 farmers are expected to get checks over the next few days. Many live in the South.
The case alleged that agriculture officials denied loans and other assistance to black farmers because of their race. This settlement marks the second round of payments for black farmers. Thousands received payments as part of the 1999 class-action settlement. The second round, dubbed Pigford II, pays farmers who missed the first filing deadline.
Dr. Adell Brown, Jr., Executive Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor for Research, an economist by training, sees the payments as a way to infuse money into farming. He adds that the Southern University Ag Center worked with black farmers in Louisiana who filed claims in the first and second cases. Brown is also reported as expressing hopes that it is not too late for farmers to reinvest in the business, citing the decline in the number of black farmers. Many are hopeful that the funds from the settlement will make a difference.
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