Farmer’s Settlement Seminar

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 1, 2013

Seminar Saturday to assist USDA settlement recipients

By John Howell Sr.

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A free seminar Saturday at the Armstrong Street Church of God in Batesville will provide information to help African-American farmers and their families best utilize settlement money received from the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) discrimination lawsuit.

“Once they get the settlement, we encourage them to put that money back into their farms,” said Cathy Turner, a spokesperson for the Jackson State University Farmer’s Network that will sponsor the seminar “Enhancing Your Farm or Ranch: Building Your Success”

The seminar from 10 a.m. until noon Sat. provides technical financial and business services to the farmers and provides agricultural outreach services in an effort to increase their exposure and participation in USDA programs, according to JSU’s announcement.

One-on-one technical assistance will be provided to address income tax issues (particularly related to the USDA settlement), operational management, and to increase awareness of services provide by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS), Rural Development (RD), Risk Management Agency (RMA), Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The assistance is designed to help keep farms in families and keep farmland in productive use, Turner said.

The JSU Farmer’s Network spokesperson said that farmers who have received their settlement can receive assistance in filing their taxes. They can also learn about estate planning to minimize the tax impact for farmers and their families.

“We want them to keep it within the family,” Turner said.

The settlements originated with lawsuits filed in 1997 and 1998 on behalf of African-American farmers who alleged that the USDA had systematically discriminated against African-American farmers on the basis of race. 

The lawsuit eventually evolved into the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 that will eventually provide approximately $1.2 billion to fund the settlements. The deadline for filing claims was May 11, 2012.

Last week, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood issued a warning about persons or organizations holding meetings and charging a fee to help black farmers file claims and participate in lawsuits when, in fact, the deadline to do so has long since passed.

For more information about Saturday’s free seminar, contact Turner at (601) 979-2794 or