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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Pigford Cases: USDA Settlement of Discrimination Suits by Black Farmers


Tadlock Cowan
Analyst in Natural Resources and Rural Development

Jody Feder
Legislative Attorney


On April 14, 1999, Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved a settlement agreement and consent decree in Pigford v. Glickman, a class action discrimination suit between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and black farmers. The suit claimed that the agency had discriminated against black farmers on the basis of race and failed to investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983 to 1997. The deadline for submitting a claim as a class member was September 12, 2000. As of November 2010, 15,642 (69%) of the 22,721 eligible class members had final adjudications approved.

Many voiced concern over the structure of the settlement agreement, the large number of applicants who filed late, and reported deficiencies in representation by class counsel. A provision in the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246) permitted any claimant who had submitted a late-filing request under Pigford and who had not previously obtained a determination on the merits of his or her claim to petition in federal court to obtain such a determination. A maximum of $100 million in mandatory spending was made available for payment of these claims, and the multiple claims that were subsequently filed were consolidated into a single case, In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation (commonly referred to as Pigford II).

On February 18, 2010, Attorney General Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack announced a $1.25 billion settlement of these Pigford II claims. However, because only $100 million was made available in the 2008 farm bill, the Pigford II settlement was contingent upon congressional approval of an additional $1.15 billion in funding. After a series of failed attempts to appropriate funds for the settlement agreement, the Senate passed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (H.R. 4783) to provide the $1.15 billion appropriation by unanimous consent on November 19, 2010. The Senate bill was then passed by the House on November 30 and signed by the President on December 8 (P.L. 111-291).

Like the original Pigford case, the Pigford II settlement provides both a fast-track settlement process and higher payments to potential claimants who go through a more rigorous review and documentation process. A moratorium on foreclosures of most claimants’ farms will remain in place until after claimants have gone through the claims process. The process for adjudicating the individual claims has not been finalized, and it is unclear when payments to successful claimants will be made.

This report highlights some of the events that led up to the original Pigford class action suit and the subsequent Pigford II settlement. The report also outlines the structure of both the original consent decree in Pigford and the settlement agreement in Pigford II. In addition, the report discusses the number of claims reviewed, denied, and awarded under Pigford, as well as some of the issues raised by various parties under both lawsuits. It will be updated periodically.



Date of Report: May 8, 2011
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: RS20430
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

U.S. Global Food Security Funding, FY2010-FY2012

Melissa D. Ho
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

Charles E. Hanrahan
Senior Specialist in Agricultural Policy


The United States currently addresses issues related to global hunger and food security through two primary types of approaches: (1) agricultural development and (2) emergency and humanitarian food aid and assistance. Agricultural development activities, such as the Administration’s Feed the Future initiative and some emergency food assistance programs, are administered primarily by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) using existing authorities provided in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. Funding is provided through the annual Department of State and Foreign Operations appropriation bill. In addition, funding for some multilateral efforts, such as the World Bank Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) Trust Fund, is provided through annual appropriations to the Treasury Department. U.S. international food aid programs are administered by USAID and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), as authorized by the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246), and are funded through annual Agriculture appropriation bills.

For FY2010, the Administration allocated about $1.31 billion to its Feed the Future (FtF) initiative, which included $1.17 billion for bilateral agricultural development programming, $75 million for nutrition-related activities carried out in collaboration with global health initiatives, and $67 million allocated to the World Bank GAFSP. Separately, in FY2010, about $1.84 billion was allocated to Title II activities under the Food for Peace program, $209.5 million for the McGovern Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, and $300 million from the International Disaster Assistance account at USAID for other emergency food assistance activities including safety net programs, cash vouchers, and local and regional procurement.

The FY2011 congressional budget justification for the Department of State and Foreign Operations was the first instance in which the Administration requested funds specifically to implement FtF. The Administration’s FY2011 budget request included $1.84 billion for FtFrelated activities, which was more than a 40% increase in the FY2010 allocation, primarily due to a $408 million request for the World Bank GAFSP Trust Fund. On April 14, 2011, Congress passed a continuing resolution to provide government-wide funding through the end of FY2011 (P.L. 112-10). The FY2011 CR provided allocations only to primary USAID budget accounts, several of which, such as Development Assistance, the Economic Support Fund, and the Global Health and Child Survival accounts at USAID, received decreases in funding relative to FY2010 levels. At the same time, the final FY2011 CR did not include specific allocations from USAID budget accounts for food security-related activities, so the implications of the FY2011 budgetlevel changes on the funding and programming for the Feed the Future initiative remain uncertain. The final FY2011 CR also included $1.5 billion for Title II Food for Peace food aid programs and $199.5 million for the McGovern Dole Food for Education program.

The Administration’s FY2012 request includes $1.56 billion for the FtF initiative, about $250 million, or 19% more than the amount allocated in FY2010. This includes $1.1 billion in bilateral agricultural development assistance, $150 million for nutrition-related activities, and a U.S. contribution of $308 million to the World Bank GAFSP. Separately, for FY2012, the Administration is also requesting $1.690 billion for Food for Peace Title II emergency and nonemergency food aid, $200.5 million for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, and $300 million of International Disaster Assistance for emergency food security-related activities.



Date of Report: April 28, 2011
Number of Pages: 11
Order Number: R41812
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Broadband Loan and Grant Programs in the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service


Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Given the large potential impact broadband access may have on the economic development of rural America, concern has been raised over a “digital divide” between rural and urban or suburban areas with respect to broadband deployment. While there are many examples of rural communities with state of the art telecommunications facilities, recent surveys and studies have indicated that, in general, rural areas tend to lag behind urban and suburban areas in broadband deployment.

Citing the lagging deployment of broadband in many rural areas, Congress and the Administration acted in 2001 and 2002 to initiate pilot broadband loan and grant programs within the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Subsequently, Section 6103 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171) amended the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to authorize a loan and loan guarantee program to provide funds for the costs of the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in eligible rural communities. The RUS/USDA houses two assistance programs exclusively dedicated to financing broadband deployment: the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program and the Community Connect Grant Program.

The 110
th Congress considered reauthorization and modification of the loan and loan guarantee program as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 became law on June 18, 2008 (P.L. 110-246). Title VI (Rural Development) contains authorizing language for the broadband loan program.

During 2009 and 2010, the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program (also referred to as the Farm Bill Broadband Loan Program) was on hiatus as RUS implemented the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5). At the same time, final regulations implementing the broadband loan program as reauthorized by the 2008 Farm Bill were refined to reflect, in part, RUS experience in implementing BIP. Subsequently, on March 14, 2011, an Interim Rule and Notice was published in the Federal Register setting forth the rules and regulations for the broadband loan program as reauthorized by P.L. 110-246.

As reauthorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program is currently authorized through FY2012. Therefore, it is expected that the 112
th Congress may consider reauthorization of the broadband loan program in the 2012 Farm Bill. As part of this consideration, Congress may focus on how effectively the RUS broadband programs are addressing the lack of adequate broadband service in underserved rural communities.


Date of Report: April 27, 2011
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: RL33816
Price: $29.95

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