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Black Farmers are a Step Closer to Recieving a $1.5 Billion Dollar Discrimination Settlement

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 24 Nov 2010 10:04am | comments
"This is about loans, access to the US Farms Subsidy Program where black farmers were totally shut out of the farm lending program." -John Boyd

Black farmers are finally on the verge of getting a 1.5 billion dollar settlement for a decades old discrimination lawsuit. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports why it has taken so long and how it will benefit Mississippi.

The case was settled out of court 11 years ago when the Department of Agriculture found that black farmers where systematically discriminated against.

"My family farm goes back to the ladder part of the 20th century."

That's Frank Taylor, President of the Winston County Self Help Cooperative. He says the black farmers lawsuit is particularly personal to him.

"One of my great grandfathers worked for 2 and a half years to purchase 40 acres and he worked and earned two bits a day. And when we purchased those 40 acres he married my grandmother and started raising his family because he didn't want to raise his family on a plantation. And to that that's why we do the work today because of those principles those people suffered through."

John Boyd , founder of the National Black Farmers Association recently spoke about some of those practices on NPR's Tell Me More program,

"This is about loans, access to the US Farms Subsidy Program where black farmers were totally shut out of the farm lending program where it takes 387 days to process a black loan request and less than 30 days to process a white loan request. where large scale corporate farmers and white farmers receive on average one million dollars per farmer in the US farm subsidy program and less than 200 dollars to black farmers."

Even though a federal judge determined that qualifying farmers could receive fifty thousand dollars each, Boyd says congressional wrangling has hampered the process-until now.

"Basically to have a bill come to the floor ten times. And we were able to work out differences with ah, Senator Coburn and other republicans. They're finally mending the fences there so that this bill can pass by unanimous consent.”

Taylor, who is a third generational farmer says not only will the settlement rekindle the spirit of black farmers in Mississippi but he says it would also add an economic boost to the state.

"There's a potential of 80 thousand claimants and Mississippi will have a significant proportion of that of roughly about 10 thousand. So if 5 thousand are approved at 50 thousand dollars that's 25 million dollars to come back into the economy.

The senate bill must now go back to the house where it is expected to easily pass. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News..

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"This is about loans, access to the US Farms Subsidy Program where black farmers were totally shut out of the farm lending program." -John Boyd


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