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Congress Reexamines Deal With Black Farmers

By Associated Press

Washington, DC – Democrats say a deal the government reached with black farmers over decades of discrimination is broken and needs another chance.

In a 1999 settlement, the Agriculture Department agreed to pay at least 50-thousand dollars to farmers who could show they faced discrimination based on their race.

About two-thirds of the 22-thousand-442 farmers who filed have won claims.

A vast majority -- more than 63-thousand claims -- have NOT been heard because farmers missed the filing deadline years ago. Many said they didn't know about it.

Alabama Democratic Representative Artur Davis is sponsoring a bill that would allow farmers who didn't receive notice of the deadline to refile their claims.

A competing measure -- sponsored by Representative Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia, and Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican -- would allow the denied farmers to go back to court.

Similar bills were introduced in the last Congress but stalled. Now in control, Democrats vowed to make the issue a priority this year.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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