Pigford v Glickman

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Title

Pigford v Glickman

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In the 1999 Pigford v Glickman decision, the US Supreme Court recounted the creation of the US Department of Agriculture in 1862 while Congress debated the provision of land for freed enslaved persons, and the reversal by President Andrew Johnson of the Freedmen’s Bureau policy to sell or lease unoccupied or confiscated land to formerly enslaved persons during Reconstruction. Despite this reversal by government, by 1910 African American farmers owned or occupied and worked 16 million acres of farmland with 925,000 African American farms in the United States by 1920. The judge noted that the growth of the US Department of Agriculture resulted in a dramatic decline of African American farmers, stating “Today, there are fewer than 18,000 African American farms in the United States, and African American farmers now own less then 3 million acres of land.” He found that discriminatory policies pursued by the USDA bore much of the responsibility for this dispossession and approved a class action settlement under which the federal government paid a total of $1.05 billion to farmers who filed a claim within the deadline who had experienced discriminatory treatment between the years of January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1996, in applications for farm loans or USDA benefits. Of over 85,000 claims approximately 18,000 were successful under the claims process. In addition, the time period and eligibility requirements for Pigford v Glickman claims represent only a small fraction of the history of dispossession by the USDA.

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