ATLANTA....The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that will fund the second phase of the Black Farmer (Pigford) lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture. Importantly, funding for both the Black Farmer lawsuit and the Native American (Cobell) lawsuit were covered under today’s House approved H.R. 4213 “The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010”.
This is a significant step toward finally offering relief to thousands of Black farmers across the country who have for decades suffered because of discrimination from their own government. This passage in the House of Representatives represents years of advocacy from farmers and farm groups who have together worked to ensure that funding for plaintiffs in the lawsuit will be available. The passage also represents the important leadership of the Obama Administration and those in Congress who have prioritized to finally offer a resolution to redress this past discrimination.
Those working diligently to offer relief to farmers includes the “Network of Black Farm Groups and Advocates” that together represent the vast majority of Black farmers in the country. The groups in the Network are the: Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, Land Loss Prevention Project, Mississippi Family Farmers Association, Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Rural Advancement Fund, United Farmers – USA, and the Texas Landowners Association.
It has been more than 10 years that thousands of farmers filed petitions in the lawsuit. Some of these farmers have now died, some are retired or disabled, some have lost their land and some are still farming. The fact is that justice delayed is justice denied. That the House of Representatives and the Obama Administration have chosen to take a proactive stand and finally end this long delay of justice demonstrates a significant step forward.
We now look forward to the U.S. Senate continuing with this momentum by also passing the “The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010” when they return from the recess on June 7, 2010. Resolution of the Pigford lawsuit will help many Black farmers to retain their land and continue to farm.
Members of the Network of Black Farm Groups and Advocates
Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation
Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
Mississippi Family Farmers Association
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project
Rural Advancement Fund
Texas Landowners Association
United Farmers USA