In 1997, three African-American farmers filed a class action civil rights lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These farmers alleged that USDA had willfully discriminated against them and other African-American farmers by denying their applications for farm loans and benefit programs, or by delaying the processing of their applications, and had failed to properly investigate and resolve their complaints of discrimination. This lawsuit, Pigford v. Glickman, was certified by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia as a class action suit on October 9, 1998. On April 14, 1999, District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman approved and entered a consent decree settling this lawsuit. In doing so, the court noted USDA's long-standing discriminatory practices. The court stated that for decades USDA discriminated against African-American farmers by denying, delaying, or otherwise frustrating African-American farmers' applications for farm loans and other credit and benefit programs. The court also noted that USDA disbanded its Office of Civil Rights in 1983, and stopped responding to claims of discrimination. Finally, the court observed that the consent decree would not undo all that had been done to African-American farmers, but nevertheless concluded that it would be a fair, adequate, and reasonable settlement of the claims brought in this case. Based on the specific interests of our requesters, for this report we (1) determined the extent of the monitor's participation in outreach and outreach oversight for the Pigford case, and (2) identified the number of claims that the monitor in the Pigford case directed to be reexamined and the associated results.
Skip to Highlights