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BLACK FARMER DISCRIMINATION PAYMENTS REACH $2.3 BILLION
Agri-Pulse reports:

May 2012 was the deadline for black farmers to submit claims charging USDA with discrimination under the terms of the Pigford I and II class action lawsuits dating from 1997. But that has not stopped speculation that additional payments could and should be made.

Several black farmer organizations maintain that many black farmers either failed to file Pigford claims or were wrongly disqualified for payments and should be given another opportunity to seek compensation.

But if there is any further compensation, it won't be soon, according to Ralph Paige, executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. He points out that "sign-up for the Pigford I and II (Black Farmers Discrimination cases), Keepseagle (Native American Farmers case) and the Women and Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers cases are all closed."

Paige says that since it took another 14 years to get Pigford II payments for the "late filers" who missed the 1999 and 2000 claims deadlines for the original Pigford case, at best "there will be a long struggle to get another chance for people who were left out."

Nonetheless, he promises that the Federation "will continue to work to get justice for all black, Hispanic and women farmers who were mistreated and discriminated against by USDA."

John Zippert, the Federation's director of program operations, tells Agri-Pulse he's "hopeful there may be another chance" to have more farmers' claims paid. However, he warns that "if the next Congress is more dominated by the Tea Party, it may be more difficult."


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