The United States Department of Agriculture Black Farmer Settlement, which awarded over $1.2 billion to thousands of minority farmers, was a result of the verdict in the class action Pigford versus Glickman lawsuit that alleged minority farmers were unfairly denied farm loans and assistance by the agency between 1981 and 1996. The original settlement paid about $1 billion to 15,640 claimants but was expanded to allow those that missed the original claim filing deadline.
Subsequent farm bill legislation allowed for claims to be filed through June 18, 2008. The extended filing added over 94,000 additional claimants and required an additional $1.2 billion in payments by the USDA. The final wave of payments began being issued in 2012 and 2013.
The suit stemmed from the claims of discrimination that took place in Pigford County, Tennessee. One such case was that of Mr. Steppes who was denied a farm loan when he needed the money to plant and, as a result, lost his farm. Mr. Brown applied and was told his application was lost, and after reapplication, the loan was approved but with the stipulation that the USDA had to approve all withdrawals on the loan. This loan restriction practice was commonly placed on black farmers' loans but never on the loans of white farmers.
Additional complaints included disaster relief such as Mr. Hall's, who lost all of his crops and was eligible for disaster relief. However, every other farm in the county was approved except for his.