[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.