November 9, 2011  

Heather Gray 404 765 0991

Black Farmer Discrimination Case Against USDA Approved by Court
Judge Friedman in the US District Court in Washington DC
Approves the Black Farmer Settlement on October 27, 2011

ATLANTA, GA....On October 27, 2011 Judge Paul Friedman in the U.S. District Court approved the settlement for Pigford II lawsuit filed by black farmers against the USDA  (otherwise known as "In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation").
As Judge Friedman stated in his order, the litigation applies to "All individuals: (1) who submitted late-filing requests under Section 5(g) of the Pigford v Glickman Consent Decree on or after October 13, 1999, and on or before June 18, 2008; but (2) who have not obtained a determination on the merits of their discrimination complaints, as defined by Section 1(h) of the Consent Decree."  
The period for claimants in the lawsuit to file their claims will begin on November 14, 2011.   It will be a 180 period (6 months).  
Here are some of the important details for everyone to understand about the process:
(1) Meeting with class counsel: Class counsel will be holding numerous meetings throughout the country to meet with claimants during the 6 month period to fill out the claim forms.  
(2) Getting the claim forms: Late filers and those who think they are a late filer in this second phase of the Black Farmer litigation should call the lawsuit administrator, EPIQ at  
877 810 8110, to ask that their claim form be mailed to them. This should be done as soon as possible for a few reasons:
(a) All claimants will have a bar-coded claim form that is specific to the claimant and cannot be used by anyone else;
(b) The claimants will need to bring the claim form with them when they meet with class counsel to fill out the claim form.
(3) Time period for receiving relief payments: No payments will be sent to claimants who are successful in the lawsuit until the entire universe of all successful claimants is known. Class counsel has told us that they hope payments will be sent to successful claimants around the end of 2012 or into early 2013.
(4) Some misunderstandings of who is in the lawsuit and what to do: We are aware of many questions people have about their potential class membership.  If individuals have any questions about whether or not they are in the lawsuit they should immediately call the administrator in the lawsuit (EPIQ at 877 810 8110)  to ask if they are on the list of claimants.    
The claim form asks the farmer a set of questions about the years they farmed (this lawsuit applies to the period 1981 to 1996); the size and location of their farm or farms; the crops and or livestock they raised or intended to raise; the USDA loan(s) or other services they were seeking; the discriminatory treatment they received from USDA; and whether they complained about their treatment and to whom. Individual claimants should include on the claim form all incidents of discrimination they experienced from the USDA to include both loan and non-loan program requests. 
"Many farmers are under the impression that they have already made a claim", said Ralph Paige, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. "This is not the case. We have been fighting for ten years for late claimants to have their cases heard on their merits. Farmers will now get that chance and have the opportunity to make their case on their claim form. Our staff will be available to advise and assist people in this process."
Relevant documents:  
* In re Black Farmer Litigation Settlement 
* Judge Paul Friedman's Court Order 
* Original Pigford v Glickman Consent Decree 


Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 44th 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.