African-American farmers hoping for government settlement money in a racial bias case met with lawmakers Wednesday and called on Congress to come up with a way to fund the $1 billion deal.
Litigation known as the Pigford Case established a longstanding pattern of discrimination at the U.S. Agriculture Department against African-American farmers who had applied for farm loans and support from federal programs.
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Under the terms of an involved process overseen by a federal judge and dating to 1999, qualified farmers could receive $50,000 each to settle claims of racial bias. In addition, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said those farmers may pursue a claim for actual damages from the bias and potentially receive up to $250,000.
Ralph Paige, executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, said Wednesday that he believed that Congress was “very close” to coming up with a way to pay the settlement, which covers as many as 80,000 African-American farmers.