Black farmers group calls for White House help

Following Senate passage Thursday of a war supplemental appropriations bill that dropped money to settle two long-standing discrimination lawsuits, National Black Farmers Association President John Boyd said Friday President Obama should call for a stand-alone measure to pay for them.

The House version contained funds to settle a suit by black farmers against USDA as well as a Native American suit against the Interior Department.

"Without pressure from the White House, this funding will not make it through Congress," Boyd said in a news release.

Boyd added he is afraid Congress will not act before an agreement between USDA and the black farmers to settle the suit expires.

Lawyers for the black farmers and the government reached a deal this year to settle the suits for total payments of $1.25 billion, but $1.15 billion of that was supposed to be appropriated by June 30. On June 29, both sides extended the agreement for 50 days.

The Obama administration has declined to tell lawmakers that the settlement merits emergency funding, which would not require an offset. Neither the White House nor USDA responded on whether there had been any change in the administration's position on emergency designation.

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