January 22, 2011

By Deborah Barfield Berry

Meeting on aid for women farmers today


WASHINGTON -- The group that spearheaded an ef­fort to compensate black farmers for years of discrimi­nation by federal officials will hold an informational session in Montgomery to­day for women farmers who say agriculture officials also discriminated against them.


"It's all the same issue. Dis­crimination is the same," said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, which will host the session at the Embassy Suites in Montgomery from 1 to 3 p.m.


Boyd said he's traveling throughout the South to talk to women who feel they were mistreated by the Depart­ment of Agriculture.


"These are white women, black women and a few (American) Indian women," he said.


Congress recently approv­ed $1.2 billion to compensate tens of thousands of black farmers who were denied loans and other assistance by federal agriculture officials.


Latinos and women farm­ers have filed similar law­suits, and federal agriculture officials have said they want to resolve those claims.


Black farmers said agricul­ture officials denied them loans and assistance for years based on their race. Some women farmers said they've faced similar dis­crimination.


Boyd said many women ran farms and others contin­ued to farm after their hus­bands died.

"The women didn't get the attention that they deserv­ed," Boyd said. "I watched my grandmother. I watched my mother work like a dog on the farm."

Boyd also will stop in Flor­ence, S.C., next week and At­lanta next month.