Iowa Public Television


Black Farmers Sue Government Again

posted on September 10, 2004

Black farmers sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week with claims the government discriminates against them in loans and farm programs  allegations that also were at issue in a sweeping civil rights case settled five years ago.

The new lawsuit seeks $20.5 billion and class-action status for up to 25,000 blacks who farmed or attempted to farm between 1997 and 2004. The lawsuit also claims the USDA is retaliating against farmers who collected payments from the 1999 settlement.

The farmers in that case said they had been systematically denied federal loans and subsidies for years. The settlement has been criticized, especially since an August report by the Environmental Working Group and the National Black Farmers Association found many farmers' claims were rejected.

USDA said it would not comment on pending litigation.

Tags: African Americans agriculture civil rights courts farmers government money news protests race