(PRWEB) August 11, 2010
Washington, DC Despite the advocacy of Sen. Lincoln, the US Senate has failed in seven attempts to fund a settlement designed to remedy decades of discrimination suffered by black farmers.
Yet, the Obama Administration and Sen. Lincoln were able to find and offer $1.5 billion to farmers in Arkansas and around the country coping with natural disasters -- a measure that has come under criticism.
Black farmers around the country are now calling on Sen. Lincoln, the Administration and other leaders to work together on finally funding justice for black farmers, many of whom face dire financial straits and/or old age.
On Aug. 5, Sen. Lincoln said that the time to fund the black farmer settlement was “long overdue.” The Senator went on to say, “Time is of the essence, as many Pigford claimants have passed away waiting for closure on this matter. We simply cannot afford to delay this process any further.”
But the Senate took no conclusive legislative action on behalf of the black farmers.
Adding insult to injury, according to press reports, and confirmed by a letter dated August 6th, from the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, Senator Lincoln sought and received assurances that the White House would find $1.5 billion within its budget to help farmers in Arkansas and around the country who are coping with natural disasters. Press reports indicated that White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, “promised to provide the assistance administratively to get her to agree to delete $1.5 billion in disaster relief assistance for farmers from small-business legislation.”
President and founder of the National Black Farmers Association, John W. Boyd, Jr. said, “All we have heard are words from the Senate. We have been fighting for months to get the government to pay for the settlement they agreed to, and seemingly with the stroke of a pen and magically there is 1.5 Billion dollars. How can I possibly justify this to the Black farmers across the nation who are struggling and saddled with the impacts of decades of discrimination? How is that right?”
Upon receiving this assurance, Senator Lincoln said, “I don’t forget who I represent, I’m willing to stand up to my caucus and everybody else to remind them who I represent. And I do represent farmers.” However, according to the non-profit organization, Environmental Working Group, this funding will, “will mean a six-figure windfall for hundreds of plantation-scale, highly subsidized rice and cotton farms across the South.” Further, the EWG stated, “…the largest share of the disaster aid will go to Arkansas -- more than $210 million -- with most of the funds directed to a small minority of the state’s largest, most heavily subsidized farm operations, regardless of how much harm they actually suffered in 2009.”
Boyd went on to say, “When there’s a will, there’s a way – this is wrong. Senator Lincoln’s office released a list of 19 programs that have been paid for using the U.S. Department of Agriculture's administrative funds since 1999, and yet they cannot find one dollar – not one – administratively to fund this settlement! As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Lincoln has a unique obligation to see that America’s farmers, regardless of race are treated equitably. I call on the Senator to push for an immediate, administrative remedy today.”
Adam J. Segal
The 2050 Group
United States District Court for the District of Columbia - Case number 1:08-cv-00940