Federation of Southern Cooperatives
Resolution on Black Farmer Law Suit
Resolution on the Black Farmers Lawsuit
Whereas, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund has been the leading organization fighting for and organizing Black family farmers for over thirty years;
Whereas, the Federation has counseled, advised and actively assisted thousands of our Black family farmer members on filing claims in the Pigford vs. Glickman class action lawsuit;
Whereas, the Federation has worked closely with the law firm of Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders and Pettaway of Selma, Alabama in filing hundreds of claims and petitions for Monitor review, for our member farmers, in the class action lawsuit;
Whereas, the Federation is concerned about many aspects of the process of handling this class action lawsuit, including: 1. the unacceptably large number of claims, almost 40%, that have been denied; 2. the unjustifiably long time it has taken to adjudicate claims and actually pay the farmers; 3. the fact that many of the USDA employees, who were involved in discrimination are still on the job or are receiving government pensions, and have not been sanctioned or penalized in any way; 4. the extended delays in deciding on late claims; 5. the time it is taking to get Monitor review of petitions; 6. the claims that the government has appealed, and a number of them which were submitted without a response from class counsel 7. problems with IRS and the correct handling of the tax implications of the settlement; and 8. the lack of clarity in the process for securing injunctive relief for interested farmers in the case;
Whereas, the Federation has supported the settlement as a compromise, to assist as many Black farmers as possible to retain their land and remain in farming, despite the limitations in the amount of the settlement , especially for the bulk of the Track “A” claimants and the limited injunctive relief provided by the government, to correct and compensate for decades of discrimination in USDA policies and programs.
Be it Resolved, the the membership of the Federation, meeting at our 34th. Annual Meeting in Epes, Alabama do hereby state:
Our grave disappointment with the slow progress of this lawsuit, the constant delays by the government, and the specific and detailed concerns raised in the above paragraphs; including the need for a new, independent and complete review by the Court of all denials in the case to insure that they are not arbitrary and incorrect;
Our concern with the judge’s financial penalties against the lawyers in this case, when the government has been late in every phase of the case, particularly payments to farmers and offering clarity on injunctive relief;
Our concern that the Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders and Pettaway law firm not be penalized for the problems caused by other lawyers in this case;
Our concern that the lawyers in the law suit be paid fairly and promptly for their work in the case, to allow them to provide the best continuing defense possible for Track A and Track B claimants;
Our desire that the Judge in the case hold a special meeting or hearing with farmers involved in the case to obtain an independent view of the status and impact of the consent decree, with a view toward strengthening its scope and impact ;
Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution will be entered in the minutes of the Annual Meeting; and be sent to the Judge, Office of the Monitor, Class Counsel, Government Counsel and other parties involved and interested in this case.
The resolution was send to US District Court Judge Paul Friedman, Attorneys in the case and Monitor Randi Roth.
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