President of Black Farmers Group Urges Arkansans to Join in Lawsuit

JANUARY 30, 2006 - Posted at 8:15 a.m. CST

PINE BLUFF, AR - The executive director of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association is urging Arkansas farmers to sign on as participants in a discrimination lawsuit.

The suit was discussed Saturday at Pine Bluff during a meeting sponsored by the group's Arkansas chapter.  Executive Director Fernando Burkett provided information about the Pigford vs. Johanns lawsuit.

Thousands of black farmers claimed in the class-action lawsuit that they were routinely denied loans because of their race.  As part of a settlement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to allow farmers to obtain a $50,000 settlement in cases where the government determined discrimination has occured.

Burkett said many people were not aware of the 1999 lawsuit or were unable to participate.  He asked those at the meeting to complete forms that would provide Burkett with information he needs to continue working on the suit.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)