Years Later, Black Farmers Find Justice


“When you can’t get your money on time to operate, two or three weeks in the farming industry—that’s like if you need water to drink and you can’t get it till three days later,” said one farmer who was denied a loan for his farm. PHOTO: Chandler’s Watch

More than 75,000 black farmers were discriminated against when they applied for government loans in the 1980s and ‘90s. A law signed by President Obama on December 8 aims to right this wrong by giving more than $1.1 billion to the farmers.

In 1997, a black farmer named Timothy Pigford went to court to argue the discrimination case. He revealed that thousands of black families lost their farms because either they were not given loans or they received smaller loans than white farmers. John Boyd, a black farmer from Virginia, told a reporter for the Washington Post that his application was torn up in front of him. “The discrimination was real for me,” he said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture later admitted that they had not given as many loans to black farmers, based on their race. In 1999, the government agreed to set up a program for the farmers to collect the money they were owed. However, many of the black farmers were told that they had missed the deadline to get their money.

Fortunately, in February 2010, a new settlement was reached to help farmers who had missed the deadline to collect the money they were due. “This isn’t simply a matter of making amends. It’s about reaffirming our values on which this nation was founded: principles of fairness and equality and opportunity,” said President Obama when officially signing the law in December.

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