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The Clock is Ticking on Justice for Black Farmers

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, March 25, 2010

WASHINGTON - Since February, the National Black Farmers Association has been rallying support to persuade Congress to distribute the $1.15 billion promised to black farmers in the 1999 Pigford settlement, which resolved a lawsuit charging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with decades of discriminatory practices. Unfortunately, a looming March 31 deadline for appropriating the funds could foil the effort to bring closure at last to thousands of farmers and their families.

In 2004 and 2007, the Environmental Working Group collaborated with NBFA on two landmark reports, Obstruction of Justice and Short Crop, which showed a widening gap between subsidies paid to between black farmers and other farmers due to USDA’s past discrimination.

Black farmers received between one-third and one-sixth of the benefits paid to other farmers under major federal crop subsidy programs. The $1.15 billion needed to redress this inequity is meager compared to the lavish subsidies that commodity crop producers receive from USDA. In 2009 alone, growers of commodity crops received $7.8 billion.

“The U.S. government has continually broken promises to black farmers and violated their trust. Now is the time to correct this gross injustice to black farmers and their families,” said EWG president Ken Cook.

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