February 15th, 2010
01:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Black farmers protest delays to settle claims of racial bias

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/15/art.farmers.cnn.jpg caption="John Boyd, founder of the National Black Farmers Association, spoke Monday at a rally in Washington."]Washington (CNN) - A group representing African-American farmers hopes to persuade Congress to fund a court settlement compensating them for long-standing claims of racial bias in federal farm programs.

But a rally Monday outside the U.S. Department of Agriculture took place on a federal holiday, and only about a dozen black farmers showed up for their cause.

Undeterred by the turnout as well as the fact that they had to shovel snow to create a place to deliver remarks, the group brought crates of corn and packets of seed labeled with messages they plan to deliver to Capitol Hill.

"We are here acting on a law that was enacted in 2008 by Congress," said John Boyd, founder of the National Black Farmers Association. "So this is already law and the black farmers are still waiting."

This month the group has organized demonstrations throughout historically black agricultural areas of the South, including Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Using Monday's rally outside the Agriculture Department as a culmination of their protest, Boyd and other demonstrators expressed frustration that Congress has yet to approve a budget that would pay for a 1999 class action settlement ordered by a federal judge.

In 2008, lawmakers established a system to review claims of racial bias from more than 70,000 farmers who were denied various types of farm support by the USDA. But Congress has yet to approve the 2010 farm bill, in which President Barack Obama has proposed including more than a $1 billion to cover the compensation claims.

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    This is a shame. We still can't get equal justice. The U.S is doomed.

    February 15, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Maria

    The Farm Service Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture continues to drag its feet in complying with the federal courts mandate to include minority advisors in its county committees and state committees. Even though minority groups have consistently urged FSA to appoint minority advisors, the agency has seldom complied. The agency puts out a lot of marketing bs regarding inclusion and diversity, but when it has the opportunity to appoint minorities, it neglects to do so.

    February 15, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Mike in NYC

    Sorry, no money available right now. Try again next decade.

    February 15, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. jules sand-perkins

    Injustices to African-Americans have been legion.
    As soon as a budget is approved, it must include the prompt settlement of the judgement in these farmers' favor.

    February 15, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Jane/Seattle

    And Congress needs to act on this matter. Too bad they are all busy giving the corporations so much money that ordinary citizens can't get their issues addressed! And to think we get to involuntarily pay for all of it. We seriously need a 3rd party to challenge these folks spending our money without consulting us!

    February 15, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    We need to end all farm subsidies immediately. They are socialist government meddling in the free market. If our farmers can't compete in the free market, they deserve to fail. Right, Randroids? Have a nice day!

    February 15, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. Donkey Party

    More obstructionism. What's new?

    February 15, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Meet the new boss same as the old boss.
    Stop voting for democrats or republicans!
    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.

    February 15, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |