The Pigford II legislation is the second phase of a lawsuit filed by North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford, who joined with 400 black farmers to complain about USDA loan policies between 1983 and 1987. In 2006, then-Senator Obama sponsored a version of the current bill, opening up a second settlement process to black farmers and farm families whose claims were caught up in bureaucracy and congressional wrangling over funding.
“Black farmers have waited many years for this day – the end of denied justice, the dawn of a new era of equality," said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, in a statement on Wednesday.
But critics cite several concerns with the soon-to-be-law. One is that about 33,000 black farms were in existence at the time of Pigford's original filing, yet 80,000 claimants have filed for settlement. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota, for one, recently called Pigford II "a complete fraud."
"This is what happens when government rings the dinner bell, and it's an indication of just how loose the rules are for vetting past injustices, real or not," Investors Business Daily wrote Tuesday in an editorial.