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 US reaches historic $1bn settlement with African-American farmers

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PostSubject: US reaches historic $1bn settlement with African-American farmers   Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:42 am

The settlement puts to rest a class-action lawsuit launched in 1997 by thousands of African-American farmers left out of programs because of alleged racism in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the landmark settlement was the result of President Barack Obama's focus on civil right issues.

"The USDA under the Obama Administration has made civil rights a top priority, which is why we are working to implement a comprehensive program to take definitive action to move USDA into a new era as a model employer and premier service provider," Mr Vilsack said in a statement.

Mr Obama praised Vilsack's efforts in modernising USDA operations and said the Pigford II case, named after North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford, reflected his commitment "to treat all our citizens fairly.

"I applaud Secretary Vilsack for his efforts ... as well as the work of the Justice Department in bringing these long-ignored claims of African American farmers to a rightful conclusion.

"I look forward to a swift resolution to this issue, so that the families affected can move on with their lives," Mr Obama said in a statement.

Pigford I saw thousands of claims settled in 1999, but thousands more were not considered because they were submitted after a 1997 deadline.

Thursday's settlement took care of those remaining claims.

The total amount offered by the government to cover the outstanding claims was $1.25 billion, 100 million of which was appropriated by Congress in the 2008 bill.

The remaining 1.15 billion is now pending congressional approval as part of an Obama request in the 2010 budget, said Attorney General Eric Holder
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PostSubject: Re: US reaches historic $1bn settlement with African-American farmers   Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:58 am

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