Justice Denied for Black Farmers. Senate Again Fails Black Farmers, Despite Government Admission of Discrimination, Court Settlement

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Coupling of Black Farmers Case with Cobell Case Raises Concerns

Within the week, the Administration indicated that it plans to fund $1.5 billion in emergency agricultural assistance

Washington, DC (PRWEB) August 6, 2010 -- Despite having the support of more than 60 Senators, black farmers in America suffered another disappointment in the U.S. Senate late Thursday evening.

National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) Founder and President, John W. Boyd, Jr., released the following statement:

“I am deeply disappointed by the Senate’s failure to pass the Black farmers settlement funding. The Senate is allowing what I believe are partisan election year divisions to avoid acting on this historic civil rights case.

"The Black farmers deserve a vote and we are going to make that message loud and clear, through all of our members, every day until Congress acts. The Black farmers simply do not have time to waste waiting for justice.

"I am asking the Senate to reassess the strategy to couple the Black farmers case with the Cobel case. These cases deal with discrimination involving two separate government departments, two separate issues, and deal with very different groups of victims. While they both deserve to be resolved immediately, there is no reason why the Black farmers need to wait for a resolution of disputes over Cobell within the Senate when we have broad support for the Black farmers settlement funding.

“One of the many examples of the discriminatory treatment that Black farmers endured at the hands of the USDA was the processing time for a loan application. In the 1980s and 1990s, the average processing time for White farmers was 30 days, whereas a Black farmer’s was 387 days – more than 12 times as long.

"In tragic irony, the Senate has put the farmers through injustice once more, akin to the mistreatment they received from the USDA.

“The Black farmers have been told to wait for another opportunity, perhaps even for another Congress. And even with clearly defined offsets, the Black farmers are being told that they are not the 'right' offsets. This is was also a common refrain heard across the South when Black farmers applied for loans, 'I’m sorry, the USDA has no money,' but somehow the money was usually there for farmers – just not Black farmers.

“Within the week, the Administration indicated that it plans to fund $1.5 billion in emergency agricultural assistance “administratively” -- but not for the Black farmers.

“Getting justice in the Senate has been an exhausting process, even though we know the votes are there.

“Seemingly obstacle after obstacle is placed before the Black farmers:

  •      When the case was settled, the farmers were told, “Go to Congress;”
  •     
  • When the House of Representatives passed the legislation, twice, the farmers were told, “Go to the Senate;”
  •     
  • When the Senate placed the funding in the FEMA supplemental, the farmers were told, “Go find offsets;”
  •     
  • When the Senate placed the funding in the War Supplemental, the farmers were told, “Not on this bill;”
  •     
  • When the farmers were placed in a stand-alone measure, the farmers were told, “You need 100% of the Senate to support it;”
  •     
  • When offsets were identified, the farmers were told, “Those are not the ‘right’ offsets, go find others;” and most recently
  •     
  • When the Senate failed to pass several unanimous consent measures, the farmers were told, “Later.”

“Despite not attending to funding the government’s black farmer discrimination settlement, the Senate will be closed for business until September 13, 2010.

“I have been to many funerals of Black farmers who passed this year and never saw justice. What will I tell the next family?”

United States District Court for the District of Columbia - Case number 1:08-cv-00940

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