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Finally, the federal government has settled a long-running dispute with black farmers, who say the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against them. The Obama Administration announced the $1.25 billion deal Thursday. The funding of the settlement must be approved by Congress. h

Black farmers, led by Black Farmers Association president John F. Boyd Jr. (above), have been fighting through three administrations. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said that some farmers had lost their land because they were unable to plant crops local USDA loan administrators failed to approve loans. The government paid $1 billion to settle a similar case with 16,000 black farmers in 1999 (known as the Pigford case), but many farmers were left out of that deal. Up to 70,000 farmers may be part of this settlement. Farmers in this round can submit claims for up to $50,000.

“I’m going to focus all my time and resources on making that happen,” Vilsack told reporters Thursday. “The president is prepared to indicate that it’s a priority not just for his administration but for the country.”

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