Organization working to get financial backing for discriminated farmers

Billions of dollars has been set aside by the USDA for farmers who were discriminated against, but BFAA says that money isn't getting to people who deserve it.
Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 7:19 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The Department of Agriculture has $2.2 billion dollars set aside for financial compensation of farmers who have been discriminated against when trying to obtain farming loans.

The Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association (BFAA) is trying to make sure families of all black farmers who were discriminated against get compensated.

The organization held a open forum at Dothan Civic Center informing folks on how they can get involved.

BFAA feels the application process makes things difficult and could lead to an easy denial for those trying to get backing.

“We are arguing that the 40 page application they are using in the application process, first of all is complicated, and will succeed in denying tens of thousands of African Americans who are otherwise eligible for relief under this program,” said BFAA President, Thomas Burrell.

According to USDA, the only people eligible for the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program are those who were discriminated against or debtors who have taken over debt following a family member’s passing.

Burrell says families of farmers should be able to receive compensation even if a farmer paid off their debts prior to their death, due to the discrimination regardless.

“You admit that you discriminated against grandma. You admit that you discriminated against granddaddy. Now, the children of grandma and the heirs of granddaddy are here, and now you’re saying you’re not going to compensate them? This is just as egregious and is just as ungodly as the acts of discrimination that you’ve committed against these people in the first place.”

After the forum, BFAA handed out questionnaires to gather information on those attending, hoping to present these papers to a judge, to show how many people this issue affects.

“We are hoping that these questionnaires will help that federal judge establish the fact, and declare the lawsuit that we filed, and other similarly situated African American farmers, landowners and their children around the country, and declare that they’d be considered a class action,” said Burrell.

Any person who qualifies could receive compensation up to $500,000.

If you feel you may qualify for the compensation program, applications are due January 13, 2024.

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