The US Senate has approved a settlement for a class action lawsuit that was more than a decade in the making.
Black farmers who say they were discriminated against by the US Agriculture Deparment are one step closer to receving a settlement after Senate vote Friday. As part of the settlement, more than 70,000 farmers nationwide will receive $1.2 billion. The settlement stems from the case known as Pigford v. Vilsack.
The suit was first filed under a different name in 1999.
An earlier settlement paid damages for about 16,000 farmers, but this second deal would add additional farmers who were denied earlier payments because they misssed the filing deadline. It passed by unanimous vote after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) dropped his objection. Coburn was given assurances that the settlement would not be funded by deficit spending. It now heads to the House.
South Carolina congressman Jim Clburn praised the settlement.
For more than a decade, political gamesmanship prevented thousands of our nation’s black farmers from receiving the settlement fairly awarded to them. What happened to our nation’s African American farmers… was wrong, and we are now making a significant step to make it right.
A separate settlement was also worked out for 300,000 American Indians who say they were swindled out of royalties by the US Interior Department. That arrangement would pay $3.4 billion.