Pigford v. Glickman
Pigford v. Glickman (1999) was a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleging racial discrimination in its allocation of farm loans and assistance between 1983 and 1997. The lawsuit ended with a settlement on April 14, 1999, by Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. To date, almost US$1 billion has been paid or credited to more than 13,300 farmers under the settlement's consent decree, under what is reportedly the largest civil rights settlement to date. As another 70,000 farmers had filed late and not had their claims heard, the 2008 Farm Bill provided for additional claims to be heard; and in December 2010, Congress appropriated $1.2 billion for what is called Pigford II, the second part of the case.
Terms of the Consent Decree 
Under the consent decree, an eligible recipient is an African American who (1) farmed or attempted to farm between January 1, 1981, and December 31, 1996, (2) applied to USDA for farm credit or program benefits and believes that he or she was discriminated against by the USDA on the basis of race, and (3) made a complaint against the USDA on or before July 1, 1997. The consent decree set up a system for notice, claims submission, consideration, and review that involved a facilitator, arbitrator, adjudicator, and monitor, all with assigned responsibilities. The funds to pay the costs of the settlement (including legal fees) come from the Judgment Fund operated by the Department of the Treasury, not from USDA accounts or appropriations.
Case history 
The lawsuit was filed in 1997 by Timothy Pigford, who was joined by 400 additional African-American farmer plaintiffs. Dan Glickman, the Secretary of Agriculture, was the nominal defendant. The allegations were that the USDA treated black farmers unfairly when deciding to allocate price support loans, disaster payments, "farm ownership" loans, and operating loans, and that the USDA had failed to process subsequent complaints about racial discrimination.
After the lawsuit was filed, Pigford requested blanket mediation to cover what was thought to be about 2,000 farmers who may have been discriminated against, but the U.S. Department of Justice opposed the mediation, saying that each case had to be investigated separately. As the case moved toward trial, the presiding judge certified as a class all black farmers who filed discrimination complaints against the USDA between 1983 and 1997.
The Pigford consent decree established a two-track dispute resolution mechanism for those seeking relief.
The most widely used option was called "Track A". which could provide a monetary settlement of $50,000 plus relief in the form of loan forgiveness and offsets of tax liability.
Track A claimants had to present substantial evidence (i.e., a reasonable basis for finding that discrimination happened) that:
- claimant owned or leased, or attempted to own or lease, farm land;
- claimant applied for a specific credit transaction at a USDA county office during the applicable period;
- the loan was denied, provided late, approved for a lesser amount than requested, encumbered by restrictive conditions, or USDA failed to provide appropriate loan service, and such treatment was less favorable than that accorded specifically identified, similarly situated white farmers; and
- the USDA’s treatment of the loan application led to economic damage to the class member.
Alternatively, affected farmers could follow the "Track B"  process. Track B claimants had to prove their claims and actual damages by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., it is more likely than not that their claims are valid). The documentation to support such a claim and the amount of relief are reviewed by a third party arbitrator, who makes a binding decision. The consent decree also provided injunctive relief, primarily in the form of priority consideration for loans and purchases, and technical assistance in filling out forms. Finally, plaintiffs were permitted to withdraw from the class and pursue their individual cases in federal court or through the USDA administrative process.
This settlement was approved on April 14, 1999, by Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Originally, claimants were to have filed within 180 days of the consent decree. Late claims were accepted for an additional year afterwards, if they could show extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing on time.
Far beyond the anticipated 2,000 affected farmers, 22,505 "Track A" applications were heard and decided upon, of which 13,348 (59%) were approved. US$995 million had been disbursed or credited to the "Track A" applicants as of January 2009[update], including US$760 million disbursed as US$50,000 cash awards. Fewer than 200 farmers opted for the "Track B" process. This was reportedly the largest federal settlement for civil rights violations to date.
Beyond those applications that were heard and decided upon, about 70,000 petitions were filed late and were not allowed to proceed. Some have argued that the notice program was defective, and others blamed the farmers' attorneys for "the inadequate notice and overall mismanagement of the settlement agreement". A provision in the 2008 farm bill essentially allowed a re-hearing in civil court for any claimant whose claim had been denied without a decision that had been based on its merits.
The largest compensation as of July 2010[update], from the first part of the Pigford case, was the $13 million paid to the members of the defunct collective farm New Communities of Southwest Georgia in 2009; their attorney said that the value of the land of their former 6,000-acre farm was likely worth $9 million alone.
Subsequent events 
In 2004, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association filed a US$20.5 billion class action lawsuit against the USDA for the same practices, alleging racially discriminatory practices between 1997 and 2004. The lawsuit was dismissed when the BFAA failed to show it had standing to bring the suit.
Legislative language was added to the 2008 Farm Bill to enable more farmers to bring suit and to authorize the government to negotiate additional monies for settlement. In 2010, the Administration had negotiated settlement for an additional $1.2 billion for such claims., in what is known as Pigford II. Congress appropriated the money for the settlement later that year.
Encouraged people to fraudulently collect $50,000 by falsely claiming to be “farmers” 
Some of the specific examples cited in the April 25, 2013 New York Times article included:
- "reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination"
- "In 16 ZIP codes in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Carolina, the number of successful claimants exceeded the total number of farms operated by people of any race in 1997, the year the lawsuit was filed. Those applicants received nearly $100 million"
- "In Maple Hill, a struggling town in southeastern North Carolina, the number of people paid was nearly four times the total number of farms."
- "In Little Rock, Ark., a confidential list of payments shows, 10 members of one extended family collected a total of $500,000, and dozens of other successful claimants shared addresses, phone numbers or close family connections."
- "In Arkansas, prosecutors rejected a test case against a Pine Bluff police officer who had admitted lying on his claim form."
- "... in one ZIP code in Columbus, Ohio, nearly everyone in two adjoining apartment buildings had filed, according to the former high-ranking agency official."
- "She cinched the claim, he said to a ripple of laughter, by asserting that her father had whispered on his deathbed, 'I was discriminated against by U.S.D.A.'"
See also 
- Timothy Pigford, et al., v. Dan Glickman, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture, US District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 97-1978 (PLF). Paul L. Friedman, U.S. District Judge.
- "The Pigford Case: USDA Settlement of a Discrimination Suit by Black Farmers", Tadlock Cowan, Congressional Research Service, January 13, 2009. Fetched February 9, 2009 from .
- "The Pigford Case: USDA Settlement of a Discrimination Suit by Black Farmers", p. 5. Tadlock Cowan, Congressional Research Service, January 13, 2009. Fetched February 9, 2009 from .
- Pickert, Kate (July 23, 2010). "When Shirley Sherrod Was First Wronged by the USDA". Time.
- With: Chris Wallace (July 25, 2010). "Rev. Jesse Jackson on Fallout From Firing of Shirley Sherrod". FOXNews.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
- U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination, New York Times, April 25, 2013
- Cowan, Tadlock (2010-04-21). "The Pigford Case: USDA Settlement of a Discrimination Suit by Black Farmers". Congressional Research Service. Archived from the original on 2010-04-21.
- "Obama to propose $1.25B for black farmers". Associated Press. 2009-05-06.