Sunday, August 01, 2004

The New York Times > National > Black Farmers' Refrain: Where's All Our Money?

The New York Times > National > Black Farmers' Refrain: Where's All Our Money?:
"Mr. Stevenson expected to benefit from the landmark 1999 class-action settlement with the United States Department of Agriculture, which acknowledged decades of 'indifference and blatant discrimination' against blacks in the department's lending programs. When the settlement was approved, the judge hailed it as the biggest civil rights award in United States history, estimating that $2 billion would be paid out to black farmers.

The claims process was to be swift and 'virtually automatic,' the judge, Paul L. Friedman of United States District Court in Washington, wrote. Most of the claimants were to receive $50,000 each and $12,500 for taxes on that amount. Five of Mr. Stevenson's sons received the money on the ground that they had been rebuffed by the Agriculture Department in the 1980's. But Mr. Stevenson, like the vast majority of those who submitted claims, was rejected.

His case illustrates the failures of a claims process that even the judge said had fallen far short of what he envisioned. Thousands of claims have been denied for a tangle of reasons including tight deadlines and late submissions, lawyers' bungling and, perhaps most significantly, the resistance of the Agriculture Department, which critics say has used technicalities to deny farmers a hard-won remedy. For those rejected, the only hope for restitution is an act of Congress."

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/01/national/01farm.html?pagewanted=all&position=
con·cept: The New York Times > National > Black Farmers' Refrain: Where's All Our Money?