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U.S. | Racial Justice

Class Counsel in Pigford II Black Farmers case may expect decision letters by August 2013
by John Zippert
Thursday Jul 18th, 2013 9:40 AM
Up to 1.25 billion dollars may be on the way to Black Farmers and Ranchers under the Pigford II settlement. The Pigford Claims Administrator in Portland Oregon will soon release decision letters, nationwide. Approved by Congress, successful claimants will receive the full damage payment of $50,000 and a payment to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of $12,500 on behalf of each successful claimant to cover his or her Federal income tax liability for the damage award. This is a total award of $62,500 for each successful 'late' and 'late-late' claimant.
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EPES, ALABAMA....In a telephone conference call last week with leaders of the Network of Black Farm Groups and Advocates, lead class counsel attorneys said farmers in the "In Re Black Farmers" case (better known as Pigford II) should receive decision letters by the first part of August or sooner.

Attorneys Hank Sanders of Selma, Alabama and Greg Francis of Orlando, Florida said on the call that the "neutrals", the judges who reviewed the claims, had made decisions on almost all of the 33,000 non-duplicate claims they received. The Claims Administrator in Portland, Oregon will be sending out decision letters by the beginning of next month or possibly sooner.

Sanders said that 17,800 of the Track "A" claimants had been successful and another 800 claims were still being reviewed to see if they were duplicates or multiple claims filed on the same farmland. The remaining claims were unsuccessful. Sanders said no Track "B" claims, for higher monetary damages, had been approved.

Because of the $1.25 billion dollars, approved by Congress to pay claims in the case, all of the Track "A" successful claimants will receive the full damage payment of $50,000. This includes both 'late' and 'late-late' filers. A payment will be made to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of $12,500 on behalf of each successful claimant to cover his or her Federal income tax liability for the damage award. This is a total award of $62,500 for each successful claimant.

For successful claimants seeking debt relief for loans from USDA agencies, their claims are also still under review to determine the specific amount of farm debt to be forgiven under the settlement.

Farmers will receive a letter in the next few weeks informing them if they have a favorable or unfavorable decision on their claims. Successful farmers will be given instructions on applying for their funds. Unsuccessful claimants will receive a checklist showing the reason(s) their claim was denied. These decisions are final and there will be no appeals.

Claimants filing on behalf of a deceased relative will have to go through the probate process to designate a family member as the "legal representative of the estate". This person will be eligible to apply for and receive the payment made out to the estate and distribute the proceeds to the other heirs after payment of expenses and taxes due on the estate.

Based on the data given by the lawyers, about 55% of the claimants in the Pigford II case whose claims were reviewed by the judges were successful in the case. This is slightly less than the 63% who prevailed in Pigford I after all appeals were completed.


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Nathaniel Nelson
Tuesday Sep 17th, 2013 6:23 PM
The process of approval and denial of our black farmers was very unfair. My claim was denied because I could not prove that I was discriminated against. I am from Mississippi, a law biding citizen, completed my application based on the truth and still was denied. I applied for a farm loan at the USDA office here in Mississippi. At first I was told that my credit was the issue, I knew that was not the truth, so I went back to discuss it and see what was the problem. Then I was told that there were not any funds available and they would contact me when they are received. I did not hear from them, so my friend who was Caucasian advised me to go back again because he knew for sure they had funds because he had just received a farm loan and operating expenses. On that third visit, I sat down and explained that it was a lot of money I was requesting and also mentioned what my friend has told me. They got insulted, one word lead to another, the conversation got quite heated and they ask that I leave or they would call the authorities. I was treated unfairly, talked to as though I was not human and now my denial from the Pigford II settlement. I feel like I have been walked on and now trampled down to the ground. This money was set aside for the purpose of the people that was denied and still today we are still being trampled. It is very disappointing and heartbreaking to see the unfair and unjust treatment of blacks still going on in our Country today.
by Debra Summers
Monday Oct 14th, 2013 7:11 AM
Is it too late to file or appeal for pigford || claimants
by elbert cooper jr
Tuesday Oct 22nd, 2013 10:17 PM
I too was denied which troubles me because 2 of my younger siblings were awarded their share one in the first case and another in this settlement yet I am the eldest son my mother passed when I was 12 there are 11 of us and I was denied, is it because I no Longer reside in ALABAMA but in Michigan or what the reason is they were on the same claim yet I was denied.