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Senate Approves Settlement For Black Farmers

Late Friday afternoon, the U.S. Senate approved funding to compensate tens of thousands of black farmers in the South who were discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. WFAE's Julie Rose reports the settlement is nearly $1.2 billion. John Boyd has virtually abandoned his fields back in Virginia to lobby Congress on behalf of tens of thousands of black farmers. He's the president of the National Black Farmers' Association, which he founded after he and his father were passed over for government aid. "I spent just about almost all of my adult life on this issue - 26 years, a very, very long time since the early 80s," said Boyd, shortly after the Senate vote. "It's been a difficult fight and you know justice is sweet." Boyd says about 80,000 black farmers will qualify for a share of $1.15 billion in compensation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has admitted to discriminating against minority farmers in the '80s and '90s. The black farmers' lawsuit is more than 10 years old and faced recent opposition from Republican lawmakers concerned about adding to the deficit. Boyd says the money is being paid for with budget offsets. The bill approved by the Senate also includes $3.4 billion for American Indian landowners who claim they were swindled out of payments by the Interior Department. The House plans to take up the measure after Thanksgiving.