|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2009
|Contact: Heather Gray - 404 765 0991|
FACT SHEET on BLACK FARMERS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
In June 2008, Congress passed "The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008" (PL 110-246) which contains Section 14012 that provides a new opportunity for “late claim filers” in the Pigford Black Farmers Class Action Lawsuit to have their cases heard. This section permits Black farmers to file a legal action in the same court (U. S. District Court in Washington, D. C.) that heard the original case.
To be included in this new case (Pigford 2), farmers must meet two basic “tests”. First, they must have filed a “late claim” in the original case (Pigford 1) and second they must meet the requirements to be part of the class in the original case. A group of lawyers for Black farmers have already filed a case in the D. C. District Court. Some of the final decisions on the interpretation and implementation of these provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill will depend the decisions and rulings of the judge in this new case.
The first test is where are you on the “time line” of this case. The priority consideration goes to those Black farmers who filed a late claim petition between October 12, 1999 and September 15, 2000. Most of these 65,000 farmers had their late claim denied by Michael Lewis, Chief Arbitrator in the case and Section 14012 of the 2008 Farm Bill was designed to override these denials and give Black farmers another chance to have their cases heard.
The judge will determine how far to extend the definition of a late filer in the case (please see the time lines below). Those who filed by the late claim deadline of September 15, 2000 have the best chance. Those who filed after this date will have to depend on the decision of the judge in the case. Those who did not file a late claim with the Claims Facilitator in Portland, Oregon, and did not receive a tracking number, have a more limited chance, which is subject to the judge’s rulings in the case.
Farmers may call the Claims Facilitator in Portland, Oregon at 800-646-2873 to determine if they filed a late claim, the date of their claim and their tracking number, if one was issued to the farmer.
The second test for farmers is that they must meet the requirements of the class in the original Pigford lawsuit. They must be able to answer “yes” to all three questions, which form the basis of their actual claim in the case. These three questions are:
Time Lines in the Pigford Lawsuit (Pigford 1 and Pigford 2)
October 9, 1998 – Class Certification in Pigford granted by the Court
April 14, 1999 – Consent Decree Approved
October 12, 1999 – Deadline for Claim Sheets to be Submitted
July 14, 2000 – Court Ruling for Late Filers
September 15, 2000 – Late Filers “Application” Deadline
October 15, 2000 - Additional Late Filers
2003 - Arbitrator Ends Providing Tracking Numbers
|Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 41st year, assists Black family farmers across the South with farm management, debt restructuring, alternative crop suggestions, marketing expertise and a whole range of services to ensure family farm survivability.|