In 1997, Timothy Pigford filed a lawsuit, along with 400 other African American farmers, against the USDA and Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman.
The class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture was filed after African American farmers alleged they faced racial discrimination. Their reasoning mainly concerned the USDA’s allocation of farm aid and loans between 1981 and 1997. During that time, both white and African American farmers were struggling to survive in the South due to pressure on small family farms. The USDA decided on loan recipients based on credit; however, throughout this time, African American farmers were facing hardships obtaining credit altogether. To further their argument, farmers alleged difficulty in receiving action and responses regarding their complaints against the USDA.
The USDA admitted their practices discriminated against African American farmers, by delaying their paperwork until planting season was over and denying crop disaster payments without reason. The Judge allowed African American farmers who filed discrimination complaints against the USDA between 1983 and 1997 to file suit. After admitting into evidence that African American farmers had experienced discrimination and complained, some farmers could get a $50,000 settlement with loan forgiveness and offsets of tax liability.
Ultimately, the settlements were approved in 1999 for just over 13,000 farmers, but nearly one-third were denied relief. Later in 2008, the Farm Bill allowed late claimants, and any claim that had been denied without a just reason, to be heard. Congress also appropriated $1.2 billion for more farmers to get settlements later in 2010. As a result, Native American farmers’ lawsuit against the USDA was settled for discriminatory practices as well. After this case, the number of African American farms increased by nearly 10%, after declining by nearly 98% in the early 90s.
During that period, African Americans did not have many skills and techniques to perform other works to make a living. Farming at that time became a very important part of their lives. It is not compassionate to discriminate against Black and Brown individuals by delaying paperwork and not giving them crop disaster payments.
It is never reasonable to judge people based on their race or skin tone. Even today, cases are happening tht are related to racial discrimination. The Pigford case is just another reminder for everyone living in Modern America to remember this period of history. Today, diversity is often, and should be, emphasized. Diversity can bring in new initiatives, insights, and ideas toward the growth of an entity.
We are all born equally. I believe we can trace some of the crimes or tragedies that happened today from inequality or discrimination. Even though we put more emphasis on punishing discrimination, it still happens somewhere out there. At the end of the day, it is difficult to put an end to discrimination. Nevertheless, our growth or even an organization’s progress cannot be achieved without putting down prejudice.
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