Black famers have waited many years for this day - the end of denied justice, the dawn of a new era of equality. When the President signs Claims Resolution Act of 2010, America's black farmers will finally have an opportunity to have their claims individually determined on their merits, and their long wait will finally end."
"For this, we thank President, the leaders of Congress, the current leadership at the USDA and many others. But we reserve our highest praise for the many black farmers and those who attempted to farm but suffered years of discrimination, yet persevered. For those famers who have passed on, they can now rest easy knowing the pathway to justice has opened for America's black farmers," said John W. Boyd Jr., president and founder of the National Black Farmers Association. Boyd has been a tireless advocate for black farmers around the country.
After President Obama signs the bill, the way will be clear for thousands of black farmers and blacks who attempted to farm, an opportunity to have their claims determined on their merits.
The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 among other issues encompasses both the Cobell Native American Indian Trust Fund and Black Famer settlements. In the late 1990's thousands of farmers sued the USDA claiming they had for years been denied government loans and other assistance based solely on race. The government initially settled the case in 1999; however tens of thousands of claimants were not notified of the settlement and left out. In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress included a piece of legislation that was co-sponsored by then-Sen. Obama and Sen. Grassley which gave blacks who farmed or attempted to farm the opportunity to finally have their claims determined their merits.
The Bill includes three major facets of anti-fraud provisions, above and beyond the already significant oversight of the Court. The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 provides that if the Neutral Adjudicator suspects fraud regarding the claim, additional documentation and evidence must be presented by the farmer. Further, the Government Accountability Office is tasked with evaluating the internal controls, and reporting to the Congress at least 2 times throughout the duration of the claims process, and finally the USDA Inspector General is required to perform a performance audit based on a statistical sampling of adjudicated claims. The results of this audit are to be reported to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Attorney General.
The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 went through Congress several times finally receiving unanimous approval Senate on Nov. 19, 2010, and final approval by majority vote in the House of Representatives on Nov. 30, 2010.
For more on the black farmers' long road to justice, please visit http://www.blackfarmers.org/ and http://www.nbfarally.com. To speak with Dr. Boyd, please contact farmjustice(at)gmail(dot)com.
United States District Court for the District of Columbia - Case number 1:08-cv-00940
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