order non hybrid seeds LandRightsNFarming: Part III "Black Farmers Lawsuit Update" by John Zippert

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Part III "Black Farmers Lawsuit Update" by John Zippert



Federation of Southern Cooperatives/

Land Assistance Fund   


For Immediate Release: November 7, 2013  

Contact: Heather Gray 404 765 0991  



Black Farmers Lawsuit Update: Part III  

Special to the Greene County Democrat by:  

John Zippert, Co-Publisher

October 30, 2013 - Eutaw, Alabama  

         In the first two articles we indicated that the Pigford I, Pigford II and Hispanic and Women's lawsuit and settlement processes were currently closed. Until additional legal and Congressional action is taken there will be no applications available and no chance for new claimants to get into these discrimination lawsuits.

         We carefully reviewed the qualifications to make a claim in these suits. First, for Pigford I and Pigford II, you had to be a Black farmer, who farmed or attempted to farm between 1981 and 1996. Congress had to waive the two-year statute of limitations on discrimination claims and allow the fifteen year claims period. This period embraces the time from when President Reagan closed the USDA Office for Civil Rights in 1981 until President Clinton reopened it in 1996.

         The time period (1981-1996) in the Hispanic and Women's settlement process is slightly different and includes 1998 to 2000.

Ralph Paige at 2010 Press Conference in Washington DC with the Network of Black Farm Groups and Advocates to demand that Congress approve the Pigford II lawsuit 

         Second, the claimant also had to make a farm loan or try to make a farm loan or secure other farm services from a USDA agency, during that same period.

         Third, the claimant had to complain of discriminatory treatment in the securing or provision of USDA farm loans or other services, to an officer of the U. S. government before the end of 1997. 

         Persons who stopped farming before 1981 are not eligible. Persons who worked on farms, e. g., picking cotton or vegetables, but were not involved in the management of the farm and did not seek a farm loan or other services from USDA are not eligible. Persons who did not make a written or verbal complaint of discrimination, to an official of the U. S. government, during the appropriate time period, are also not eligible.

         The claim form also asks the farmer or person who attempted to farm the size, type and location of their farm, whether they owned land or rented or both; location of the USDA office where they went to get a loan or other services; the type, size and uses of their loan; what happened when they applied or tried to apply; economic damage incurred as a result of the discrimination and other related questions.

         At the end of the form, the claimant must sign, under penalty of perjury, that all of their answers and statements are true and correct.

         In the Hispanic and Women's claim process, notarized affidavits are required from witnesses to the loan process.

         One farm advocate said, "if a person wants to lie on these forms, they have to tell ten pages of lies, that are consistent, and then sign that all their lies are true, under Federal perjury laws ... "

         The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the Network of Black Farm Groups and Advocates, the Rural Coalition and other organizations are studying the history, outcome and working of these cases to determine if there is a basis for another legal action and Congressional settlement for those farmers who were left out of the prior cases.

         Part of this study is to determine what support there is in Congress, USDA and the Obama Administration for another case or the reopening of the Pigford and Hispanic and Women's cases for those who missed out or were left out of these prior cases. This study is tempered with the realization that it took 14 years from the October 12, 1999 end of Pigford I until August 30, 2013 for the decision letters in Pigford II to be sent out.

         Re-opening these cases will take time for Congress to hold hearings to gather facts, write enabling/authorizing legislation, provide adequate funding or appropriations to pay the settlements, and allow for court or administrative actions to create a claims/settlement process. This will be time consuming and require positive political will to get this task done.

         There are several categories of farmer claimants who should be considered for this next and final discrimination settlement process. This includes:

  1. Claimants, who meet the qualifications to be in the cases, but never filed a claim or had their claims decided on their merits. This includes farmers who never received notice of the claims process, farmers who are qualified but were not on the 5g late claim list, farmers who signed up with organizations that did not send their information to the Claims Administrator's office(s) in Portland, Oregon.
  2. Claimants who wrote their Congressman or Senators asking to gain admittance in the case by June 18, 2008 or other later date, who have not filed a claim.
  3. 469 Claimants, who were disqualified at the last minute in Pigford II, because they filed an actual late claim in Pigford I but it was not evaluated on its merits.
  4. 800 claimants in Pigford I whose lawyers were unable to file appeals by the required time limit in Pigford I
  5. Claimants in Pigford II and the Women's case, who received partial awards because the adjudicators erroneously determined that they had the same farming operation as other claimants.
  6. Other claimants who feel that they were unjustly or erroneously disqualified from the lawsuits through no fault of their own.

         Farmers or those who attempted to farm, who participated in any one of the claims processes and had a fair determination of their claim on its merits, whether favorable or unfavorable, should not be able to participate again.

         Ralph Paige, Executive Director of the Federation said, "we will continue to work to get justice for all Black, Hispanic and Women farmers who were mistreated and discriminated against by USDA. It may take time, hopefully less than 14 years, this time, to get justice for those who were left out of the prior cases."

         The Greene County Democrat newspaper plans to continue to follow and write about developments in these cases as they occur. You may want to consider getting a subscription to make sure you do not miss this vital information. You can also read highlights from our newspaper on the Internet at www.greenecountydemocrat.com.    




For background materials about the lawsuit please go to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund's website. Here are some of the links below:

Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 46th year, assists Black family farmers across the South with farm management, debt restructuring, alternative crop suggestions, marketing expertise and a whole range of services to ensure family farm survivability.  


2769 Church Street · East Point, GA · 30344

404 765 0991 · www.federation.coop 

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This email was sent to tillery@aol.com by heathergray@federation.coop |  
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund | 2769 Church Street | East Point | GA | 30344