US reaches historic $1bn settlement with African-American farmers

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The US government has reached a historic $1.25 billion settlement with black farmers who were discriminated against when they tried to get loans and other assistance.

The settlement puts to rest a class-action lawsuit launched in 1997 by thousands of African-American farmers left out of programs because of alleged racism in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the landmark settlement was the result of President Barack Obama's focus on civil right issues.

"The USDA under the Obama Administration has made civil rights a top priority, which is why we are working to implement a comprehensive program to take definitive action to move USDA into a new era as a model employer and premier service provider," Mr Vilsack said in a statement.

Mr Obama praised Vilsack's efforts in modernising USDA operations and said the Pigford II case, named after North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford, reflected his commitment "to treat all our citizens fairly....

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