U.S. Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) today are introducing a bill to fund the $1.15 billion settlement that black farmers reached with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in February.
"We want to ensure black farmers in our country finally receive the justice they deserve," said Hagan. "More than 4,000 African American farmers in North Carolina and over 75,000 nationwide have been discriminated against and denied just compensation for decades. Today, I join with my colleagues from Arkansas and Louisiana, Senators Lincoln and Landrieu, to introduce a bill to fund the settlement once and for all, and we are working to send this language to the President."
Hagan announced the bill today with Lincoln, the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. They joined John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) who also spoke at the press conference. The bill would ensure that African American farmers who were unfairly discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture when applying for loans, credit and other forms of financial help, will receive the settlement to which they are entitled. Congress has thus far failed to appropriate the funding.
"The time is long overdue to fund the discrimination settlement for African American farmers who have experienced decades of injustice," said Lincoln. "All farmers should receive equal access and treatment in the delivery of USDA's programs and services and we must finally close this chapter of discrimination within USDA. While funding this settlement will not erase the anxiety and frustrations so many hard-working farmers experienced, it will help compensate their financial losses and finally begin laying the foundation in restoring their faith in the United States government."
"This injustice has gone on for far too long," said Landrieu. "The U.S. Congress needs to make this right and the reality is that we are running out of options. That is why Senator Hagan, Senator Lincoln and I have introduced a stand alone bill today. We will try to attach this bill to any moving legislative vehicle in the Senate. But if the political environment is such that no bill is moving, Senate Leadership will need to call up this stand alone bill and debate it on its merits. I think that Senate Leadership is going to need to take a good, long look at that option."
More than 4,000 African-American farmers in North Carolina and 75,000 across the nation are waiting for Congress to appropriate the $1.15 billion settlement. Since Hagan came to the Senate, she and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have worked together to bring justice to black farmers across the country.
Black Farmers Settlement Funding Legislation Introduced
Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have introduced "a bill to fund the $1.15 billion settlement that black farmers reached with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in February," according to a press release.