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Black farmers lawsuit meeting scheduled for Thursday

Published 9:24am Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A meeting to discuss an ongoing dispute between black farmers and the United States Department of Agriculture will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the E.M. Henry Skills Center in the West End community.

Robert Binion, interim president of the Black Farmers Association, is among the Chilton County residents with a stake in a series of lawsuits against USDA for discriminating against black farmers in the granting of loans.

Class-action lawsuits were filed by black farmers in 1997 and 1998, and a consent decree was entered in 1999 to establish deadlines for filing claims.

While more than 22,000 farmers filed claims by the deadline, more than 50,000 eligible claimants missed the deadline. Many were ultimately able to file their claims, and a settlement was reached.

But Binion said many claimants, which have formed an organization called Independent Farmers, still haven’t received payments.

“We’re hoping to get this resolved before the end of the year,” Binion said.

Binion said USDA has not addressed complaints filed by farmers who were not part of the settlement and/or haven’t received payments.

“They may be thinking they’re setting us down, but we’re not going to stop until we can get justice for all farmers,” Binion said.

The plight of black farmers will be recognized at a program marking the 18th anniversary of the Million Man March, on Oct. 19-20 at Tuskegee University.

Anyone interested in attending the event should visit noimoa.com.

Also, another black farmers meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 in Marion.

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