Q:

What are some recent updates pertaining to the Black Farmers settlement?

A:

Quick Answer

The Black Farmers Settlement was resolved after years of litigation when Judge Paul L. Friedman approved a Settlement Agreement on Oct. 27, 2011. The deadline to submit a claim was May 11, 2012, with checks being mailed out to successful claimants around October of 2013. In all, payouts totaled $1,200,425,182.08.

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Full Answer

The Black Farmers Settlement began in 1997 and 1998, when two class-action lawsuits were filed alleging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against African American farmers by denying them loans and other assistance due to their race. The lawsuits were consolidated and eventually victorious, with Oct. 12, 1999, set as the deadline to file a claim to receive funds. Individuals with "extraordinary circumstances" were allowed to file by the late deadline of Sept. 15, 2000, instead. While 22,700 claimants filed before the October deadline, an additional 61,000 requested permission to file by September. Only 3,000 of these had their requests approved, leaving 58,000 victims without compensation for the discrimination they suffered. Additional applications were also received after the late filing date.

These individuals were granted a legal right to sue again by the 2008 Farm Bill, signed by the President on June 18, 2008. The original case was not reopened by the legislation, which instead commenced a new legal proceeding. Originally only $100 million was authorized for successful claimants, but the sheer volume of applicants ensured that this total would not be sufficient. The Claims Resolution Act was signed on December 8, 2010, to increase available funds by approximately $1.15 billion, allowing the Settlement Agreement to be paid out on schedule.

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