Pigford II Settled
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced the successful resolution of the longstanding litigation known as Pigford II - which pitted African American Farmers against USDA. Farmers claimed discrimination in the administering of USDA programs.
What the Settlement Says
The Pigford II settlement agreement, which is contingent on appropriation by Congress, will provide a total of 1.25-billion dollars to African American farmers who alleged that they suffered racial discrimination in USDA farm loan programs. Following the appropriation, class members may pursue their individual claims through a non-judicial claims process in front of a neutral arbitrator. Claimants who establish their credit-related claims will be entitled to receive up to 50-thousand dollars and debt relief.
Statement by the President on the Settlement in
the Black Farmers Lawsuit against USDA
“My Administration is dedicated to ensuring that federal agencies treat all our citizens fairly, and the settlement in the Pigford case reflects that commitment. I applaud Secretary Vilsack for his efforts to modernize operations at the USDA, as well as the work of the Justice Department in bringing these long-ignored claims of African American farmers to a rightful conclusion. I look forward to a swift resolution to this issue, so that the families affected can move on with their lives.”
Comments from NC Senator Kay R. Hagan
WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) commented on the Obama Administration’s agreement with African American farmers.
Sen. Hagan said:
“Years ago, thousands of African American farmers were unfairly discriminated against by the Department of Agriculture when applying for loans, credit and other forms of financial help to ensure their farm's success.
“The 2008 Farm Bill did not adequately address the costs required to settle the claims in the Pigford v. Glickman case. Last year, Senator Chuck Grassley and I introduced bipartisan legislation to correct this injustice, and I am very pleased with the crucial step announced today: a $1.25 billion agreement that was reached between the Administration and black farmers. It is vitally important that Congress appropriates sufficient funding to settle these claims, and I am working with my colleagues to ensure that it does.
“These African American farmers, including more than 4,000 North Carolinians, deserve to finally receive the compensation they have been denied for decades.”
Animal ID Solutions To Be Developed
Now that USDA is scrapping the National Animal Identification System, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture will devote part of its annual meeting March 15-17 in Kansas City, Missouri, to helping develop a new identification system.
USDA Tracking Food Consumption Patterns
For the 100th time, the latest data on U.S. food availability per capita has been released by USDA. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says, - the ability to track dietary trends is a crucial element of efforts to combat obesity and prevent its adverse health outcomes.
Canadians Culling Sows Faster than US
Canadian hog producers continue to cull sows faster than their U.S. counterparts, according to the latest government statistics from Canada. J.P.Morgan analyst Ken Goldman sees that as marginally positive news for companies like Smithfield Foods.
In Canada, the number of farrowing sows fell by nearly 8 percent in the three months ended in January, compared to a 5 percent decline a year earlier. By comparison, in the three months ended in December, 2009, U.S. sow farrowings fell by less than 2 percent, compared to a nearly 5 percent decline a year ago.
HSUS Takes Second Run at Ohio
The Ohio Ballot Board has certified the Humane Society of the United States to circulate petitions in an effort to place an initiative on the state ballot this fall related to livestock housing and slaughter, the board's spokesman, Jeff Ortega, confirmed to Meatingplace.
As previously reported, HSUS would need a total of 660,000 signatures to place the measure on the ballot for the November election.
Attorney General's Office Details on Pigford II Settlement
Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli outlined the dollars and cents terms of the settlement agreement with African American farmers on a conference call with reporters
Perrelli explained that farmers will have two claim types to choose from: Track A will have simplified claims process of up to $50,000 plus debt relief, Track B will be a more rigorous process but will permit successful claimants to receive actually damage up to $250,000. The actual amount any claimant receives will depend on how many successful claimants there are. Perrelli realizes that this process will take time but says that they’ve learned about how to make it more streamlined and more efficient, and hope that the $1.25 billion will be distributed quickly and appropriately.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack urged Congress to provide the funding necessary to ensure these farmers and USDA can close this sad chapter and move on. One of the concerns that Congress expressed was the lack of a signed settlement agreement in which there was acknowledgement by the plaintiffs that this would be a sufficient amount that to resolve the dispute, and it was a structure they could satisfied with. But, we now have a signed settlement agreement.
Vilsack said he didn’t think anybody in Congress doubted that there’s a responsibility on the part of USDA and the government to essentially settle these cases and get this matter resolved. The Department of Justice has entered into a reasonable settlement for all parties involved and it’s Vilsack’s hope and belief is that Congress will pass the appropriations expeditiously and the process can begin the of getting folks paid.
A moratorium on foreclosures of most claimants’ farms will be in place until after claimants have gone through the claims process or the Secretary is notified that a claim has been denied.
Pigford II Settlement Outlined in Dollars & Cents