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Black farmers demand restitution

MEMPHIS, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Representatives for black farmers across the United States say their clients should be compensated by the federal government for decades of discrimination.

National Black Farmers Association President John Boyd said his group is organizing seven rallies, including one in Memphis Monday, in an attempt to gain $1.15 billion in government restitution, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

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"Black farmers were brutally mistreated and discriminated against," Boyd said.

The last of the regional rallies is scheduled Saturday in Richmond, Va. In addition, Boyd's group is coordinating a national rally next Monday in Washington in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture building.

Boyd said black farmers were habitually denied farm loans and crop subsidies by USDA officials and current black farmers are routinely offered lower loan amounts than white farmers receive.

Boyd said nearly 80,000 black farmers who failed to receive compensation as part of a lawsuit settled in 1990 by USDA officials should be granted restitution.

"We need to bring closure to this case," Boyd told the Commercial Appeal. "It's been going on too long. The farmers are frustrated when we have to go back and tell them, 'You have to wait a little longer.'"

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