Obama reneges on promise to black farmers

Yet another item on the increasingly long list of President Obama’s broken campaign promises. Chalk this one up to lofty campaign trail rhetoric meeting the reality of Washington politics.

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a senator, Barack Obama led the charge last year to pass a bill allowing black farmers to seek new discrimination claims against the Agriculture Department. Now he is president, and his administration so far is acting like it wants the potentially budget-busting lawsuits to go away.

The change isn’t sitting well with black farmers who thought they’d get a friendlier reception from Obama after years of resistance from President George W. Bush.

“You can’t blame it on the Bush administration anymore,” said John Boyd, head of the National Black Farmers Association, which has organized the lawsuits. “I can’t figure out for the life of me why the president wouldn’t want to implement a bill that he fought for as a U.S. senator.”

At issue is a class-action lawsuit known as the Pigford case. Thousands of farmers sued USDA claiming they had for years been denied government loans and other assistance that routinely went to whites. The government settled in 1999 and has paid out nearly $1 billion in damages on almost 16,000 claims.

Farmers, lawyers and activists like Boyd have worked for years to reopen the case because thousands of farmers missed the deadlines for participating. Many said the filing period was too short and they were unaware of the settlement until it was too late.

The cause gained momentum in August 2007 when Obama, then an Illinois senator, introduced Pigford legislation about six months into his presidential campaign.

Although the case was hardly a hot-button political issue, it had drawn intense interest among African-Americans in the rural South. It was seen as a way for Obama to reach out in those areas, where he was not well-known and where he would need strong support to win the Democratic primary.

The proposal won passage in May as sponsors rounded up enough support to incorporate it into the 2008 farm bill. The potential budget implications were huge: It could easily cost $2 billion or $3 billion given an estimated 65,000 pending claims.

With pressure to hold down costs, lawmakers set an artificially low $100 million budget. They called it a first step and said more money could be approved later.

But with 25,000 new claims and counting, the Obama administration is now arguing that the $100 million budget should be considered a cap to be split among the successful cases.

The position — spelled out in a legal motion filed in February and reiterated in recent settlement talks — would leave payments as low as $2,000 or $3,000 per farmer. Boyd called that “insulting.”

Can’t do much but laugh since Obama backed himself into the corner on this one.

My money says Obama caves on this to sure up his constituents, eventually. He’ll be hard-pressed to approve billions for this considering he just sacrificed $100 million in deep, painful cuts.

  • Bill Hedges

    Nobody has spent the kind of money Obama has in world history, let alone in first 100 days in United States Presidental history.

    Yes, we have been in equally bad Recession before.


    What is his agenda ?????????????????????????????????????????

    bones. Can you answer ? You like to support him.show logic I miss

    I am either too stupid or too smart. Too dumb. Too Conservative. Not Liberal enough.

    I’m very good at Mathamatics !!

    Whar does he want ? A debt level of $250,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Now stands over $100,000…WHAT ???







  • Christopher Schwinger

    He talked the talk to get elected, and it beats me how people fell for it. He’s not even an eligible citizen; he clearly was not born in America, based on his efforts to cover up the birth certificate. When will enough people say that treason is treason?

  • Babs

    Chris, I’m “hoping” these tea parties will grow into a frenzie that will get us real “change”. obama can’t ignore the people forever.

  • Bill Hedges

    You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
    You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
    You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
    You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”

    Abraham Lincoln

  • bones

    Sorry bill, didn’t see you addressed me. But just because I like him more than the average person in this conservative haven doesn’t mean I think he’s more than a politician I like more than the last.

    There are plenty of campaign promises he’s not going to fulfill. He promised to double the size of the Peace Corps too, and that’s not happening. Wish I was surprised.

  • Bill Hedges


    That’s o.k..At times some news hits and it bothers me a lot. We each have our right to back whoever we want. I only hope each of us do not blindly follow our choice.

    I appreciate your civil language and I try hard to do so as well. Respecting your views but differing many times.

    I truly believe Obama is leading us to ruin. I am just giving my personal thoughts. No disrespect for your thoughts

  • 100% agree with you Bill!

  • Bill Hedges

    Thanks Chamber