Friday, July 8, at 9 am, Southern Region farmers and other justice and equality supporters protested outside the Supreme Court building to demand courtroom justice, highlight the unfairness of the Pigford Class Action settlement and discuss the discrimination they experienced from the USDA.
The theme was, “Are the 2016 Black Farmers the new Dread Scott of 1857?”
The agency held the formal hearing on the merits of the 2007 Pigford Remedy Act which was also included in the Food Energy and Conservation Act (Farm Bill) of 2008.
“The complaint at the Supreme Court is regarding Eddie and Dorothy Wise, farmers from North Carolina, who were foreclosed on and evicted from their 106 acre farm on January 20, 2016 by 14 militarily armed Federal Marshals and several Nash County, North Carolina deputy sheriffs without ever being granted a hearing,” said spokesperson for the American Agriculturist Association.
The following speakers spoke at the protest:
– Farmer Eddie Wise
– President of the American Agriculturalist Association and Pigford Class farmer Eddie Slaughter
– Director of the Cowtown Foundation Cory Lea
– President of the National Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association based in North Carolina Gary R. Grant
– President Emeritus, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees Lawrence Lucas
The Wises challenged the USDA in denying a formal hearing before the Administrative Law and challenged the Supreme Court on farm ownership.
The Pigford v. Glickman (1999) class action lawsuit claimed the U.S. Department of Agriculture allegedly discriminated against African American farmers by not providing disaster relief or government support.
Farmers received their settlement 15 years later. The first settlement option gave farmers $1.06 billion in cash and tax payments along with debt releases.
The second Pigford settlement provided farmers with $1.25 billion.
The settlement options left Black farmers with continued discrimination and no justice.
“The US Supreme Court, upon review, could change these illegal tactics that are currently affecting over 80,000 socially disadvantage farmers,” said spokesperson for the American Agriculturist Association.