Institute for Economic and Racial Equity

New Report from the Pigford Project: Tending Repair

image of young plants in a planterRead the Report

In 1997, Black farmers sued the United States Department of Agriculture for discrimination and won. In the latest report from the Pigford Project, Tending Repair, our team examines the aftermath of the Pigford cases, and, through conversations with claimants and their descendants, reveals what remains broken after the historic settlement.

“You turn around and sue them and you win the suit, they’ll keep doing the same thing.”

– Pigford Project Interviewee

Tending Repair analyzes Black farmers’ experiences of the implementation and aftermath of the Pigford settlement through the lens of reparative justice to highlight the multiple levels of harm inflicted, and thus repair needed, by the USDA on the Black farming community.

Key Findings

  • Health: Pigford Claimants and their descendants often mentioned the damage that the USDA’s discrimination and the fight for justice did to their mental and physical health.
  • Trust: While some descendants note improved trust in the USDA and federal agencies, many Pigford claimants still do not trust the USDA and do not see themselves meaningfully included in USDA decision-making.
  • Satisfaction: Claimants were largely unsatisfied with the terms and implementation of the settlement agreement.
  • The Future of Farming: Claimants still have a great deal of hope in the next generation’s ability to steward and heal the land.

The Pigford Project is a collaborative research project between the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity at Brandeis University that aims to understand the legacy and impact of the Black Farmers Cases, Pigford v. Glickman and In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation.