NAACP URGES U.S. SENATE TO PROVIDE FULL FUNDING IN PIGFORD II DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
BILL ALSO CONTAINS REPAYMENT UNDER THE COBELL SETTLEMENT OF LOST ROYALTY FUNDS FOR THE MISMANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES ON AMERICAN INDIAN LANDS
As early as Monday, August 2, 2010, the United States Senate is expected to take up legislation to provide the $1.25 billion necessary to fund the Pigford II settlement. This settlement, which was announced by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Justice in February of this year, would provide as many as 70,000 African American farmers, many of whom suffered blatant discrimination at the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for decades, with cash damage awards and debt relief. These claims cannot even begin to be investigated, let alone settled, until after Congress has appropriated the funding. Funding for the Pigford settlement had been approved by the US House on July 1, 2010, but the money was stripped by the U.S. Senate on June 22, 2010.
The legislation to be considered also contains $1.41 billion to provide for the Cobell settlement, which involves lost royalty funds flowing from the mismanagement of natural resources on Indian land by the U.S. Department of the Interior for more than a century.
There is an urgency to pass this appropriation to settle the class action lawsuits of African-American farmers and Native Americans. Many of the farmers who would qualify for monies under the settlement have waited as long as 10 years to be compensated; some have already died or lost their farms. After years of discriminatory treatment by USDA credit and program agencies, these farm families have already waited almost a decade for compensation for these well-established claims. It is time to allow these farmers to focus on the future, and move forward unencumbered by the racial discrimination of the past.