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National Black Growers Council

Position on the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation (Pigford II)

The National Black Growers Council (NBGC) is a member of the National Black Agricultural Alliance (Alliance), a group comprised of several organizations that are concerned with the sustainability of Black farmers.  Through this relationship, NBGC has expressed its concerns regarding the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, commonly referred to as Pigford II.  Both NBGC and the Alliance have expressed their desire to improve and expedite the settlement.  Recommendations to accomplish these objectives include:
  1. An ombudsman, who is familiar with agricultural production and USDA programs, should be appointed to provide independent oversight to the entire claims process.  They should have access to all records and provide consistency within the Pigford II class members, as well as with other class-action settlements.  The ombudsman should be properly resourced to accomplish these objectives.
  2. Settlements should focus on complete debt relief for discriminated farmers.  Consideration should be given to the fact that farm loans are interconnected and the inability to pay off one loan automatically impairs the ability to pay off other loans. 
  3. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) was the main agency involved in discrimination against Black farmers. Ironically, this agency was also heavily involved in settling the complaints.  In cooperation with the ombudsman and others involved in the settlement, a process to minimize further complications from FSA should be sought.  Emphasis should also be placed on restoring the ability of discriminated farmers to fully utilize USDA programs.
  4. In Pigford I, there was an unusually high burden of proof for farmers who had conducted business with USDA.  Farmers should be expected to provide sufficient evidence to show that they are indeed a member of the class.  However, once this is done, proof of discrimination should be expanded to be inclusive of common tactics used to discriminate during the period covered by the settlement. 
The NBGC also requests that USDA disseminate factual information regarding the Pigford II settlement.  These updates should be disseminated via the same mechanisms used to distribute news about the other class-action settlements (Garcia for Hispanics, Keepseagle for Native Americans, and Love for Women).  NBGC provides links to the following pieces to provide additional information: 

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