Black Farmers

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Black farmers told a House committee Thursday that a landmark class-action settlement by the Department of Agriculture was not advertised widely enough, resulting in thousands of farmers missing the deadline to collect.

The 1999 Pigford versus Glickman settlement was aimed at resolving complaints from black farmers who said they had been systematically denied loans because of their race.

The deadline was October 1999, six months after the settlement was filed. Some lawmakers on the panel said as many as 66,000 black farmers may have turned in late claims because of improper notice.

Of the more than 22,300 farmers who met the original deadline, 8,623 were rejected compensation.

Selma lawyer J.L. Chestnut who represented the farmers in the class-action suit said he supports allowing more farmers to collect. He defended the way his office reached out to farmers and said many didn't sign up because they didn't trust the government to ever pay.

But Bernice Atchison, a Chilton County farmer who was among those denied access to her share of the settlement, said there was no advertisement in her local newspaper and she never got word until it was too late.