New farm bill includes millions to settle decades of discrimination against black farmers

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[HNN: On Friday the House of Representatives approved a new farm bill that includes a provision to pay millions of dollars to black farmers discriminated against by Agriculture Department bureaucrats in earlier dcades. The bill goes to the Senate in the fall.]

John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, said it is something that needs to happen."At least the farmers will get their cases heard on their merits," said Boyd, who raises corn, soybeans and chickens in southern Virginia."I'm very hopeful that this will be added to the farm bill."

The legislation would allow about 73,800 black farmers to file in U.S. District Court for damages and would delay foreclosures against farmers who can prove discrimination.

In 1997, dozens of black farmers sued the Agriculture Department, saying the agency treated them differently from white farmers in approving loans, and a settlement was reached in 1999. The USDA has paid out nearly $1 billion in claims to about 15,000 black farmers who said they suffered discrimination. But tens of thousands of black farmers missed the Sept. 15, 2000, deadline.

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