Pigford: the unexamined Obama administration scandal—
part 2 of 7
The underreported scandal referenced is generally identified as “Pigford.” Pigford’s germination occurred in 1997 as a lawsuit (Pigford vs. Glickman) alleging that 91 African-American farmers were unfairly denied loans by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) due to racial discrimination which prevented the complainants from farming. In 1999, the black farmers won their case.
Judgment Fund: It is administered by the Judgment Fund Branch, which is a part of the United States Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Fiscal Service. The Judgment Fund Internet Claims System (JFICS) is the application used to process all Judgment Fund claims. The Judgment Fund is a permanent, indefinite appropriation available to pay judicially and administratively ordered monetary awards against the United States. The Judgment Fund is also available to pay amounts owed under compromise agreements negotiated by the U.S. Department of Justice in settlement of claims arising under actual or imminent litigation, if a judgment on the merits would be payable from the Judgment Fund. The statutory authority for the Judgment Fund is 31 U.S.C. 1304.
Amounts paid vary significantly from year-to-year. Federal agencies are not required to reimburse the Judgment Fund except when cases are filed under the Contract Disputes Act (CDA) or the No FEAR Act (Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act).
Vilsack and Holder Announce ‘Pigford II’ USDA Settlement with Black Farmers; USDA Press Release No. 0072.10 Contact: USDA Office of Communications (202)720-4623; U.S. Dept of Justice Office of Communications (202) 514-2007 USDA AND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCE HISTORIC SETTLEMENT IN LAWSUIT BY BLACK FARMERS CLAIMING DISCRIMINATION BY USDA AUDIO: Media Briefing WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2010 – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the successful resolution of the longstanding litigation known as Pigford II. The settlement agreement reached today, which is contingent on appropriation by Congress, will provide a total of $1.25 billion to African American farmers who alleged that they suffered racial discrimination in USDA farm loan programs. The settlement sets up a non-judicial claims process through which individual farmers may demonstrate their entitlement to cash damages awards and debt relief.
“Because this Administration firmly believed that a full and final class-wide settlement was possible, the Administration requested $1.15 billion in the 2010 budget, on top of the $100 million already provided by Congress, to facilitate a settlement. I now urge Congress to provide the funding necessary to ensure that that these farmers and USDA can close this sad chapter and move on. . “As I testified before Congress during my confirmation hearings last year, 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.” Attorney General Eric Holder: “Bringing this litigation to a close has been a priority for this Administration. With the settlement announced today, USDA and the African American farmers who brought this litigation can move on to focus on their future.
” In 1999, the USDA entered into a consent agreement with black farmers in which the agency agreed to pay farmers for past discrimination in lending and other USDA programs. Thousands of claims have been adjudicated, but thousands of other claims were not considered on their merits because the affected farmers submitted their claims after the settlement claims deadline. To address the remaining claims, Congress provided these farmers another avenue for restitution in the 2008 Farm Bill by providing a right to file a claim in federal court.
Claimants who establish their credit-related claims will be entitled to receive up to $50,000 and debt relief. A separate track may provide actual damages of up to $250,000 through a more rigorous process. The actual value of awards may be reduced based on the total amount of funds made available and the number of successful claims. A moratorium on foreclosures of most claimants’ farms will be in place until after claimants have gone through the claims process or the Secretary is notified that a claim has been denied.The claims process agreed to by the parties may provide payments to successful claimants beginning in the middle fo 2011.
For the first time since 1997, USDA now has investigators on staff to do the field work needed to investigate complaints. * After a competitive bidding process, USDA has hired outside, private firm to do an independent external analysis of the department’s service delivery programs to identify problem areas and fixes. The firm will consider programs at USDA to identify barriers to equal and fair access for all USDA customers. * In April, USDA suspended all foreclosures in the Farm Service Agency’s loan program for 90 days to provide an opportunity to review loans that could have been related to discriminatory conduct.
The department is also establishing a congressionally mandated Ombudsman office to improve dispute resolution efforts.
source–judgement fund branch, JFICS, CDA, Fear act, usda, eric holder, vilsack, jom o’sullivan, mainstream media, pigford vs glickman, senator obama, thomas vilsack, eric holder, steve king, andrew breitbart, nyt, shirley sherrod, al pires,