Congresswoman Lee Issues Statement on the Pigford II Settlement Disbursements
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding the Pigford II settlement disbursements African American farmers began receiving this week from the United States Department of Agriculture:
“The blatant and systematic discrimination the African American farmers involved in the Pigford I and II settlements endured at the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reprehensible and I am pleased that the claimants are finally getting the justice they deserve,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “I will continue to fight to ensure that all Americans have equal access to federal government assistance, loans and contracting opportunities to continue to build our nation’s economy from the middle-out.”
The Pigford I and II class action lawsuits were filed to address the history of racial discrimination by the Department of Agriculture. Between 1983 and 1997, thousands of African American famers were denied loans solely because of their race.
In May 2008, as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress passed legislation appropriating $100 million for compensation for Pigford II claimants. As the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2009 to 2010, Congresswoman Barbara Lee fought vigorously on behalf of the Pigford I and II claimants to advance legislation which appropriated an additional $1.15 billion for these claims, bringing the total available compensation to $1.25 billion. On December 8, 2010, President Barack Obama signed this legislation into law.
This week African American farmers began receiving settlement disbursements from the United States Department of Agriculture. To date, 149 claims in California have been approved, totaling $7,450,000 in economic impact.