The U.S. Department of Agriculture is notifying African-American farmers that faced discrimination by the agency, but who were not compensated previously, that they may be eligible for part of the recent $1.25 billion settlement.
But there is no guarantee from the Agriculture Department that every farmer eligible will receive compensation. The farmers still must get their paperwork in by a set time and it must be verified.
Between 1981 and 1996, the Agriculture Department was found to have systematically discriminated against Black farmers, and was hit by a series of class action lawsuits.
Federal court rulings have found that African-American farmers who were excluded from earlier decisions should be eligible for compensation. Those eligible include not only the farmers but also their heirs, kin, or legal representatives. Members of those groups can file claims and comments, or lodge an objection to the settlement.
The deadline for the filing claims is February 28, 2012, and if the claimants do not act by then they risk forfeiting their award and the right to engage in future suits.
Other groups of Black farmers have been compensated for Agriculture Department discriminatory practices that stretched back many decades. The current group being notified were either not part of the earlier suits or did not file in time to become part of them.
(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)