This page originally appeared in the May 2008 edition of


Source: Black PR Wire, Inc.; a release issued by Pogust, Braslaow & Millrood LLC dated 5/27/08

The law firm of Pogust, Braslow & Millrood, LLC filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 on behalf of hundreds of African American Farmers who allege that they were the victims of racial discrimination by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The farmers were originally class members in the action of Pigford v. Glickman case, but were denied benefits eligible to them due to defects in the notice program associated with the 1999 settlement. Specifically, the Plaintiff farmers were not given timely notice of the Pigford settlement and therefore were not able to participate in the settlement program and were not allowed to prove their claims on the merits.

Last summer, Senator Barack Obama (IL) introduced legislation to allow these individuals the opportunity to prove their claims of racial discrimination on the merits. Senator Obama's legislation ultimately became part of the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, passed by Congress on May 22, 2008.

As alleged in the Complaint, tens of thousands of African American farmers were discriminated against by the USDA based solely upon the fact that they are African American.

The plight of the black farmer in the United States remains worrisome. In 1920, black farmers in the United States owned 15.6 million acres of land; by 1999 that number had fallen to 2 million, and the number is still dropping by 1,000 acres per day. In 1910 there were 926,000 African Americans involved in farming; at the end of the century, just 18,000 remain, and studies report they are going under at five to six times the rate of white farmers. In recent farm subsidy payments, just 18 percent of black farmers received government payments in 2002 compared with 34 percent of white farmers. The average payment for black farmers was $3,460 versus $9,300 for whites, the study said. Overall, although 5 percent of the nation's farmers are minorities, they get just 1 percent of federal commodity payments.

"I applaud Congress for taking such an important step with yesterday's passage of the Farm Bill," said Harris Pogust, partner with the firm. "For far too long, black farmers in our country have experienced injustice. Black farmers are such an important part of the fabric of our country. But they must be treated equally and fairly. The government must be accountable to these farmers, whose time for justice is long overdue."

Today, the law firm of Pogust, Braslow & Millrood, LLC represents several thousand black farmers in their claims to restore their rightful entitlement to government funds. The law firm has established an informational website, for individuals to access information and submit census information.


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