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Obama Gives Black Farmers $1.5 Billion

Something from the Obama administration’s usual Friday night news dump, that has gotten little notice.

From a cheering Washington Post:

Robert Binion, center, a peach and watermelon farmer from Clanton, Ala., speaks at the microphone as a small group of black farmers rally at the Agriculture Department in Washington to urge settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination, Monday, Feb. 15, 2010. John W. Boyd Jr., third from left, a farmer from Baskerville, Va., and founder of the National Black Farmers Association, says black farmers have been systematically denied loans and treated unfairly by the Department of Agriculture for years.

U.S. approves settlement for black farmers

By Carrie Johnson
Friday, February 19, 2010; A01

The Obama administration announced a $1.25 billion settlement Thursday to resolve charges by thousands of black farmers who say that for decades the Agriculture Department discriminated against them in loan programs.

That is a slight exaggeration.

This case, Pigford v. Glickman, was a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture, which alleging racial discrimination in its allocation of farm loans and assistance between 1983 and 1997.

Fifteen years is not quite “decades” of discrimination.

Cabinet officials exhorted Congress to approve the deal by setting aside money for the farmers, who have fought through three administrations to secure a measure of justice. In the starkest cases, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, farmers lost their property after local administrators slow-pedaled loan applications, leaving them unable to plant key crops.

The original 400 plaintiffs settled with the government in 1999, less than two years after bringing suit. Under the consent decree, they were to be paid $50,000 each, and they would be granted certain loan forgiveness and tax offsets.

After the lawsuit was filed, Pigford requested blanket mediation to cover what was thought to be about 2,000 farmers who may have been discriminated against, but the U.S. Department of Justice opposed the mediation, saying that each case had to be investigated separately.

The agreement is part of a wider effort by Obama and senior officials to dispense with lawsuits stemming from America’s checkered civil rights legacy. In December, the Justice Department led efforts to settle a long-standing case with Native Americans who accuse the federal government of mismanaging royalty payments for natural resources mined on tribal lands. A settlement is awaiting congressional action.

Vilsack and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. took a personal interest in striking a deal with the black farmers, whose leaders have appeared regularly in the halls of Congress and in the White House. Vilsack predicted that Congress will approve the settlement.

"I’m going to focus all my time and resources on making that happen," he told reporters Thursday. "The president is prepared to indicate that it’s a priority not just for his administration but for the country."

In a statement, Obama applauded the Cabinet members for "bringing these long-ignored claims of African American farmers to a rightful conclusion."

The government paid $1 billion to settle a related case with 16,000 black farmers in 1999, but notification and communication errors led to some farmers being omitted from that settlement.

Originally, claimants were supposed to have filed within 180 days of the consent decree. But late claims were accepted for an additional year afterwards, if the plaintiffs could show extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing on time.

So instead of the anticipated 2,000 affected farmers, 22,705 were heard and decided upon, of which 59% were approved. $995 million was disbursed to them.

The agreement announced Thursday would provide cash payments and debt relief to farmers who applied too late to participate in the earlier settlement. Authorities say they are not certain how many farmers might apply this time, but analysts following the dispute say the number could be higher than 70,000…

That is to say, that in addition to those applications that were heard and decided upon even after being filed more than a year after the deadline, there were another 70,000 petitions were filed far too late and were not allowed to proceed.

The farmers’ attorneys argued that the notice program was defective, but the court blamed the these attorneys for "the inadequate notice and overall mismanagement of the settlement agreement".

Luckily, a provision in the 2008 farm bill essentially allowed a re-hearing in civil court for any claimant whose claim had been denied.

So what we have here is a giveaway that started with 400 black farmers, but has now been ratcheted up to 72,705. And now Mr. Obama has decided to give these extra 70,000 (with more on the way) $50, 000 a piece, which will add up to at least $1.5 billion — but probably far more.

John W. Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, which has been lobbying for an agreement, said: "There’s a huge trust factor that has been broken. The $50,000 will not put a farmer who has lost his farm back on his land, but it will help them have some comfort in their final years."

Since black farmers first filed the lawsuit, known as the Pigford case, in 1997, Hispanic farmers, women and Native Americans have also sued the government, based on alleged widespread discrimination in awarding agriculture loans and subsidies. Advocates for those farmers are expected to lobby Congress to be included in the new Pigford settlement in the weeks ahead, analysts said

So every Hispanic, woman and Native American farmer who can fill out a claim form will also be getting a $50,000 payout from the government.

Administration officials said Thursday that the outlines of the settlement had met with bipartisan support, particularly from lawmakers from agricultural districts. But House appropriators, who would be the first to act on the measure, said they needed more time to review the settlement before offering solid predictions as to its fate.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she was encouraged by the settlement, which could provide the most help to farmers in Southern communities. "Over the past 20 years, the number of farms operated by black farmers has declined by nearly 50 percent," Lee said. "In part, this decrease was caused by a lack of access to loans and other assistance which were provided to other farmers."

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), also a member of the caucus, said: "This settlement is a case where justice delayed will no longer be justice denied. . . . History has taught us to never give up when fighting for what is right. What happened to these black farmers was wrong, and we now have the opportunity to make it right."

Funny, but weren’t members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently complaining about how some blacks were tricked into taking loans for houses they couldn’t afford? And now aren’t we supposed to give them reparations because they got loans they can’t afford to pay back?

Talk about being damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

Incidentally, in 2004, this same Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association filed a nearly identical $20.5 billion class action lawsuit against the USDA, again alleging racially discriminatory practices between 1997 and 2004.

The lawsuit was dismissed when the BFAA failed to show it had standing to bring the suit. But you can bet that it will be reinstituted just as soon as these reparations are paid out.

Who says farming doesn’t pay?

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, February 22nd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

15 Responses to “Obama Gives Black Farmers $1.5 Billion”

  1. wardmama4 says:

    I have a question – what happened in 1983? As apparently the black farmers weren’t discriminated against prior to that. So this inquiring mind wants to know what happened in 1983 that kicked this off.

    And also, I guess I’d want to know 1) why privious DOJs did not see fit to do anything about this lawsuit and 2) reading between the lines – the ‘Cabinet officials’ probably translates into Obama pushing this.

    I guess if you can’t redistribute the wealth one way – with a Chicago Thug Administration – you can always find another way.

  2. JohnMG says:

    …..”So what we have here is a giveaway that started with 400 black farmers, but has now been ratcheted up to 72,705……”

    Does this remind anybody of the story about the public transportation bus in St. Louis that was rear-ended by another vehicle. At the time of the incident, the bus was devoid of passengers. By the time the police arrived on the scene there were over thirty passengers aboard, all claiming varying degrees of injury. All of them black, as was the bus driver. What a coincidence!!

    I’m beginning to think all these accusations of racism are having an effect on me. They’re making me racist by sheer force of repetitive suggestion.

    Obama post-racial?? Preposterous!!

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      “It’s not that I hate them. It’s that I hate what I’ve become…..because of them.”

    • proreason says:

      “They’re making me racist ”

      No they are not.

      They are making you aware that accusations of racism are now just another libwit con game.

      The only solution to the problem of race is for people to refuse to play the game any more. There is no need for guilt. The contry has paid for the sin of slavery one hundred times over. Only then will the racial con end.

  3. U NO HOO says:

    Reparations bro?

  4. proreason says:

    1 of many to come

  5. BigOil says:

    Let me see if I have this straight. I have to subsidize black minority farmers to the tune of $50,000 because they are denied a loan by the USDA, which has no consitutional authority to act as a bank in the first place.

    Just a suggestion – go to a damn bank if you want a loan like the rest of us have to – there are 1000’s to choose from.

    Social justice sho is expensive.

  6. GetBackJack says:

    Sweet Babbling Buddha – I’ve been in ranching or around ranching all my life and have never ever considered the Government anything other than THE SINGLE GREATEST ROADBLOCK to making a living off the land. Who in their right mind would ever consider the government ANYTHING OTHER THAN A PACK OF RABID KNUCKLEDHEADS???? Of course their employees screw the pooch and fail one farmer while enriching another! Good Lord … that’s the way it is in the age of Corporate Farming,brothers and sisters.

    I’m gonna have to raise up a Pissed Off WHITE Rancher’s Association and sue the Golddanged government for … help me here … uh, BEING IN THE BLANKETY BLANK WAY.

    Maybe they’ll give me some of ya’ll’s hard earned dollars so I can rest my boots under the loafing shed out back.


    I gotta find another Planet …

    (psst – no farmers, no food, and if you can’t farm it, it has to be mined. just saying)

  7. Janet S. says:

    Just a reminder that Barney Frank’s boyfriend Herb Moses worked for the USDA. He then went to work for Fannie Mae thinking up creative rural loans.

    From the article – “The Dartmouth grad also played a crucial role in brokering a relationship between Fannie Mae and the Department of Agriculture,” Hicks wrote. “This led to the creation of Fannie Mae’s rural housing program where the secondary marketing agency agreed to purchase small farm loans insured through the department.”

  8. jobeth says:

    That loud gurgling sound you hear is your money slipping down the proverbial drain.

    You know, before the banks stopped lending to anyone at all…they would have jumped at the chance to provide money…to a minority farmer (good for the gov perks and atta boys). That is IF they weren’t already operating at such a loss that it was obvious they shouldn’t have gotten a loan.

    So now…when loans are all but impossible to get…they…not whites…get loans in the billions. However when money was easy to obtain during the boom years…they couldn’t talk anyone into giving them that loan.

    Lets see…why would that be? Could it be they are LOUSY FARMERS? UMMMM? That they don’t have a viable business?

    Like everyone else here, I smell somethin’ rotten in the cornfield…and it ain’t fertilizer from the cows.

    I’m beginning to see the “I need my kitchen” and “I don’t gotta pay for no more gas” crowd beginning to line up right behind the farmers. However I don’t recall any white getting a new house, kitchen or gas for their car…at least from this WH. No…we are expected to work (if you can find/keep a job) and then share your wealth with all the losers in this country. Nice.

    There’s just no end to this guys capers.

    • JohnMG says:

      It really goes beyond money jobeth. There has been a perceptable shift of behavior mainly of blacks toward whites since Obama got elected.

      I was raised during a time when racist policies still existed, and they were shameful, indeed. But my upbringing was such that all people were to be respected and treated equally. I have raised my own children to adulthood espousing the same teachings. Therefore it pains me to be confronted with the reality of current situation.

      For many years I have considered many blacks within my social circle to be good friends, always being careful to practice my personal feelings toward my fellow man. Suddenly with the election of a black to the highest seat of power, many of my erstwhile “friends” have become cool and distant, sometimes aloof, and frequently exhibiting a thinly veiled, smug hostility. I now feel a betrayal of sorts, finding that such feelings were all along harbored beneath the cloak of disengenuous friendship. I have done nothing to engender such feelings, but I get that “Take that, cracker!” attitude handed to me with astonishing regularity.

      I don’t like being played for a sucker. What these folks seem not to understand, is that from this point forward, any friendly overtures of blacks toward me will met with suspicion and skepticism. And I’m not the only person feeling this way. Blacks have no one but themselves to blame for it.

      My personal belief is that Obama has set the cause of race relations in the US back at least 50 years, at a point in time when it stood the greatest chance of moving rapidly forward. That will be the most lasting legacy he will leave behind. Few blacks will seriously be considered as presidential material for decades to come.

      To paraphrase; “He coulda’ been a contender”, but he blew it.

    • Petronius says:

      jobeth: “then share your wealth with all the losers in this country.”

      Yes. And with losers in other countries as well. And with those in other countries who are presently on their way here.

    • Petronius says:

      John MG: “considered many blacks within my social circle to be good friends, always being careful . . . . I now feel a betrayal of sorts, finding that [their] feelings were all along . . . disingenuous . . . .”

      The rules governing race relations have been established within the framework of Liberal ideology. This is true for both blacks and whites.

      Unfortunately, however, Liberalism is an ideology based in white guilt, but which offers no answers, no solutions, no redemption, and no real-world explanation for that guilt . . . instead, it offers grandiose procedures, which only serve to aggravate and irritate the guilt: the emphasis on black victimology and, for whites, on continuous correction, on continuous reeducation, on heightened sensitivity, on revisionist history, on method and activity, on more dollars, on more government tribunals.

      For the Liberal, there is no end, no terminal point, to the problem of guilt. There is no saying, “Our work is finally done.” There is no sitting and enjoying. There is no let-well-enough-alone. There is no stick-to-your-own-cabbage-patch. There is no moment for the soul to be at peace.

      Liberal guilt can never be appeased. Liberal guilt is obsessive and insatiable.

      The upshot is that the white person is always morally disarmed before the black person.

      Liberals will constantly remind us that we must go to ridiculous lengths to police our every word and thought. They constantly remind us that we must adopt a demeaning racial etiquette that is so extensive, so demanding, so impossible and unpredictable, that ordinary day-to-day living with blacks becomes problematic, becomes filled with tricks and tension, with dangerous, hidden, racial land mines just waiting to explode.

      How much better to break off contact with them altogether, or at least to the maximum extent possible? Far better simply to avoid them at all costs. Many blacks openly pride themselves on avoiding white people; perhaps this is a smart policy.

      Why lead a life that is full of stress, without fun and laughter, where we must re-think and then re-re-think our every thought and every move, where all enjoyment in life is compromised or denied, where our best intentions are always met with suspicion or hostility, where every joke becomes problematic, where our most sincere apologies are never accepted, where our genuine friendship is not reciprocated, where our utmost generosity is never good enough, and where we are constantly reminded of the transgressions, real or imagined, of our white ancestors?

      When people no longer accept common rules in their mutual intercourse, when white people are no longer allowed to move peacefully through the streets of life, when all whites are “racists,” then civilization ceases to exist.

      The destruction of order and civilization, as a means of dealing with irrational Liberal guilt, is the chief end product of Liberalism. It is the only significant accomplishment of Liberalism.

      Ceterum censeo hostem esse delendum.

    • jobeth says:

      John, Petronius,

      Both of you have identified the heart of racial interactions of the ‘aughts’ and teens. I agree there seems to be a chip on many black shoulders that seems to have gotten so much bigger since Obalmy got in power. It especially amuses me when the left get upset with him because they are getting frustrated at his not giving them all the perceved ‘goodies’ they thought he would dish out to them. They feel betrayed now. But still…the sneers just under the surface is a barb aimed directly at the whites as if to say…”I get it all now”

      I too was raised in the time where blacks got a really unfair deal. I never went to school with blacks until I went back to school as an adult. I remember when the black children in my area had their own school and it seemed normal. (really telling my age there).

      These are the blacks I can understand being resentful.They lived it. Not these spoiled youngsters who have never had to sit at the back of the bus or had to leave a resturant to eat their lunch out back. Oddly most of the older blacks I know are respectful and easy to get along with. It’s easy to return that respect to these people because they deserve it. But then so do I.

      With a few exceptions, when I did per
      diem contract travel work, I’ve always worked in large teaching hospitals where the percentage of black employees was high.

      We watched everything we said in order not to offend their delicate natures, letting real insults from them go by because of the trouble they would cause if you called them on something. As their supervisor, even going to the length of doing their work because it had to be done or you would be on the hook and the upper management wouldn’t back you up,if you did call them on it. I know of what you speak. Oddly we didn’t have those same attitudes from Filipinos, even Hispanics who were also minorities.

      We even had one black female worker who would routinely alter her time card when she was late. She had such an attitude of entitlement she would sarcastically laugh and declare no one would dare to fire her because she was black. No lie. Well, one day she got surprized and did get fired, but right on cue she caused a huge ruckus and claimed racism. For a change it didn’t help but it was years before she stopped fighting her firing. She called every pro black agency in she could muster.

      THIS is what causes white resentment. Their constant demands of special treatment because their parents and grandparents got horrible treatment.

      I never discriminated against them and they were never slaves. So I have no white guilt. I refuse to be intimidated by them on personal level. However, I do get sick and tired of hearing we as whites can’t understand. Yes we can because WE are being discriminated against everyday by affirmative action and bad attitudes.

      What they fail to admit or own is, it isn’t their color that we don’t like. Their color has never done a thing to me. Its their bad attitude and their sense of entitlement.

      Having to live near work, I’ve lived around neighborhoods that have found themselves increasingly black. It got so bad that we couldn’t feel safe going to the local grocery after dark.

      When we retired we moved to a more rural area that happens to be nearly all white. We have been known to leave things unlocked and with one exception of a young druggie who was pilfering while he ‘house sat’ for a neighbor, we don’t have many problems along that line. We had the same reaction against this white guy as we would for blacks who would do the same in the city we left. It’s the behavior we resist. Not the color of the person who does it.

      Its a mindset and behavior. They will continue to milk it as long as we have wimpy whites with a sense of guilt about what happened to their ancestors.

      What they forget, or refuse to admit, is that if there was true widespread organized discrimination against them…the whites in power would never have helped and supported their parents and grandparents in gaining their rightful civil rights. Today’s young blacks are spoiled brats and today’s whites are wimps.

      I know of no other race that has had this much trouble fitting in with their community. Asians:? Not a chance…they work rings around most whites. Hispanics…that are here legally? We dont notice they aren’t white. Who cares.They are just another co worker who is pulling their own weight without attidude tied to their skin color.

      I could name many other races, but most of those I know come from family cultures that require hard work and few complaints. Not so with blacks.

      Before I stop here, for the lurkers, I totally understandevery individual is different and can be the exception but we are talking cultures here. Also for the lurkers, I’ll wager everyone on S&L has good friends of every race. I know I do.

      That’s what really irritated me when I was accused of being racist when I didn’t vote for Obalmy. I couldn’t stand his policies. THEY were the racists…because they voted him BECAUSE of his skin color.

      The good thing that I see is there are a slew of blacks who are now getting it…both on the left and right. Blacks that don’t demand special treatment and who look to themselves for their own betterment in life. I feel I can talk anything with these people. We don’t always agree but there is respect for each other and they have respect and take responsiblity for themselves. Whats not to like

      This race thing is actually much ado about a bogus topic.

      Ok…I’m off my soapbox…;-)

  9. canary says:

    whose leaders have appeared regularly in the halls of Congress and in the White House.
    Must be locals, if only Michelle had paid them to farm her garden.

    All farmers in the nation have struggled their entire lives. It will get worse with Obama’s environmental strings & regulations. Obama should have put strings attached on an individual basis. Anyone can farm an acre.

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