|March 19, 2000||Contact: Jerry Pennick & Heather Gray (404) 765-0991|
|Federation of Southern
Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
Demands Just and Equitable Changes in U.S. Farm Policies
And Black Farmer Consent Decree Implementation
New Farm Policies Are Needed Now!!!!
Since 1967 the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund has been assisting 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. Rural communities and family farmer survival are dependent on fair US farm policies. The time is now to support family farmers. To strengthen our farmers and rural communities we call for the following to be included in the next Farm Bill:
Full funding ($10 million) of the Section 2501 Outreach, Education
and Technical Assistance Program;
Class Action Suit
Black farmers have settled the class action suit Pigford V Glickman, and the implementation is in process. However, while we support the settlement, we are acutely aware that it has serious problems that plague Black farmer class members. Examples of these problems include:
A 40% rejection rate of farmer claims that is far too high.
Distribution of payments to the farmer claimants is too slow.
There is ambiguity in the debt relief offered farmers in the
Consent Decree. This needs to be addressed. If farmers have USDA debt the
question remains which debt if any will be relieved.
Discriminators at the USDA Remain in Place!!!!
We are concerned that while not addressed in the settlement, those in the USDA who have discriminated against Black farmers are still in place in extension offices throughout the country. We believe that USDA must take immediate steps to remedy the situation. USDA should not consider the settlement to be an end of its responsibility to address this on-going problem.
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