President Obama said today that funding the Pigford II settlement is a “priority” for his administration.
During his press conference, Obama was asked about the $1.25 billion settlement for African-American farmers who were discriminated against by the USDA for decades. The funding for the settlement been delayed in Congress for seven months. April Ryan from Urban Radio asked whether Obama could assure that the settlement would be funded before he leaves office.
“It is a fair settlement, it is a just settlement. We think it’s important for Congress to fund that settlement. We’re gonna continue to make it a priority,” he said.
John Boyd, the president of the National Black Farmers Association and the driving force to get the settlement funded, said he was glad to hear it’s a priority — but wants more details.
“I’m hopeful that we hear more details from the administration on how we can get this bill passed in the first weeks of September,” Boyd told TPM. “I would like to see what the next steps are.”
The process, Boyd says, has been frustrating. The funding has passed the House but stalled in the Senate, where it’s been attached to and then stripped from a number of bills. Just before recess, Democrats tried to pass Pigford II and the related Cobell settlement for Native Americans via unanimous consent. But Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) objected, killing the measure.
Boyd would like to see a standalone bill for Pigford passed by the end of September. He has requested a meeting with Obama, hoping to convince him to put more pressure on the Senate to pass the bill.
He says he has also urged Republican senators from farm states, like Sen. Thad Cochran from Mississippi, to help push the bill through.