Black Farmers’ Settlement Agreement

On April 14, 1999, a Federal District judge approved a settlement agreement resolving a class action discrimination suit, commonly known as the Pigford case, between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and black farmers. The Pigford suit asserted that USDA had discriminated against black farmers on the basis of race and failed to investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983-1997.

The original Pigford settlement was adjudicated over a decade ago, however many farmers were omitted based on a rigid formula used to determine payment. As a result of this omission, farmers who submitted late filing requests under Pigford after October 12, 1999, and before June 19, 2008 were included in a class known as the Pigford II.

Recently, the Obama Administration has put forth a Pigford II settlement agreement that demonstrates a commitment to recognizing past discrimination by USDA against black farmers.

The Pigford II Settlement Agreement provides:

  • A non-judicial claims process through which individuals may demonstrate their entitlement to damages and debt relief.
  • A structure for distributing a total of $1.25 billion dollars, to redress claims made by late-filling black farmers that USDA discriminated against them in the provision of certain USDA farm programs.
  • An expedited claims process, called “Track A,” designed to provide quick relief of up to $50,000, plus debt relief.
  • An actual damages claim process, called “Track B,” designed to provide relief to claimants who can provide their actual damages, up to $250,000, through a more rigorous claims process.
  • A moratorium on foreclosures of most claimants’ farms until after claimants’ have gone through the claims process or the Secretary of Agriculture is notified that a claim has been denied.

Before payments can be disbursed to claimants, funds must be appropriated by Congress, the settlement must receive court approval, and the claims process must be completed. The entire process has been estimated by some to extend until the end of 2011. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to see that funds are appropriated to the remaining Pigford claims, so that this matter can finally be put to rest. After court approval, more information will be made available for individuals interested in filing a Pigford II claim. To view the complete settlement agreement, CLICK HERE!


Keep The Faith!



Bennie G. Thompson
Member of Congress



To view the complete settlement agreement, CLICK HERE!