order non hybrid seeds LandRightsNFarming: Adebayo's Study of Discrimination at USDAANGU, by Olusian Adedayo, Graduate Student at UDC

Monday, October 21, 2013

Adebayo's Study of Discrimination at USDAANGU, by Olusian Adedayo, Graduate Student at UDC

Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2013
Subject: Study of Discrimination at USDA, by Olusian Adedayo, Graduate Student at UDC


Olusina Adebayo

                                                                                    Intergovernmental Relations

                                                                                                            Dr. Ray Oman



            The natural resources that are harvested, mined or extracted are the agriculture that are used to stimulate economy and create commerce. Agriculture is fuel for the economy and commerce. These two departments have a very dynamic relationship as well. Both departments, although involved in the public sector, play huge roles in the private sector.  Although the Department of Agriculture is supposed to serve the people, more often than not, it tends to serve the interest of big business. Agribusiness works in conjunction with agriculture to turn a profit as opposed to safe guarding the nations food supply.  According to the North Dakota State University (NDSU) College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources Information page, "The agribusiness industry accounts for nearly one-fifth of the US gross national product and employs close to one-fourth of the US labor force". As a result of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) corporate Agribusiness preference, the USDA has come in conflict with subsistence and small-scale farmers. The mission statement as supplied by the USDA website, states; "We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management"[1]. The USDA vision statement posted on their website proclaims; "To expand economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production sustainability that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve and conserve our Nation's natural resources through restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands".[2]


            Although the USDA is supposed to protect and defend the food supply of the United States, in fact, the USDA acts as an un-official wing for corporate Agribusiness and profit over public health.  What is Agriculture? Agriculture is the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products. The United States produces over 200 billion dollars a year in food commodities:

In agriculture, agribusiness is a generic term that can be applied to businesses involved in some or all of the following agriculturally related production systems: crop production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agrochemical, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales.  Though all of these elements of agriculture production and distribution may be included in the definition of agribusiness, "agribusiness" as an idea most often emphasizes the "interdependence" of these various sectors within the production chain and is often inked to the corporations or firm's which own multiple parts of that production system[3]


            A clear example of this hypocritical relationship is evidenced in the Pigford v. Glickman case.   Timothy Pigford filed the lawsuit in concert with 400 other black farmers. They claimed that the USDA was not providing services as it pertains to economic assistance:

The lawsuit was filed in 1997 by Timothy Pigford, who was joined by 400 additional African-American farmer plaintiffs. Dan Glickman, the Secretary of Agriculture, was the nominal defendant. The allegations were that the USDA treated black farmers unfairly when deciding to allocate price support loans, disaster payments, "farm ownership" loans, and operating loans, and that the USDA had failed to process subsequent complaints about racial discrimination [4]


    This case was originally a state and local issue.  Timothy Pigford, a farmer from North Carolina, grew corn and soybeans on 75 leased acres of land in Southeastern North Carolina.  Pigford applied for a $150,000 loan from the USDA so that he could buy land for his own farm.  Instead of receiving the loan for farm ownership, Pigford was rewarded with an operating loan for seeds, fertilizer and supplies. Pigford was ultimately denied a loan for farm ownership.  In 1984, Pigford testified before Congress that he was denied loans based on racial discrimination. 

            In my paper, I will examine the relationship between the Departments of Agriculture and the case of Pigford v. Glickman.  I will illustrate how conflict stated and what were the implications of the case.  I will also detail the conflict between commercial farmers and the Department of Agriculture.I had the opportunity to interview  Lawrence Lucas , President of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, and gathered information on the evolution of the case.In addition I will examine how issues such as Pigford v. Glickman are essentially local issues that escalate to national or Federal issues based on failures by local officials.







The United States Department of Agriculture was established to provide leadership on food, agricultural, and environmental issues by developing agricultural markets, fighting hunger and malnutrition, conserving natural resources, and ensuring standards of food quality through safeguards and inspections.  The department was created by act that was installed on May 15th 1862:

There shall be at the seat of government a Department of Agriculture, the general design and duties of which shall be to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture, rural development, aquaculture, and human nutrition, in the most general and comprehensive sense of those terms, and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants[5]


The USDA has many subsidiaries and subdivisions as evidenced in the chart below:


The case of Pigford v. Glickman concerns the responsibility of the USDA to assist commercial farmers. These offices fall under the Rural Development umbrella. The auxiliary offices are as follows; Rural Business-Cooperative Program, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans, Business Enterprise, Business Opportunities, Cooperative Development, Cooperative Opportunities and Problems Research, Cooperative Program, Economic Development, and Intermediary Relending.  The Rural Business-Cooperative Program has the responsibility of assisting commercial farmers in remote locations to access funds to facilitate development of land; "To meet business credit needs in underserved areas, USDA rural development business programs are usually leveraged with commercial, cooperative, or other private sector lenders". [7] The Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans Program is responsible for loaning farmers the money to purchase machinery that cultivates the land for harvest; "This program generates jobs and stimulates rural economies by providing financial backing for rural businesses. Loan proceeds may be used for working capital, machinery and equipment, buildings and real estate, and certain types of debt refinancing.  The Business Enterprise was created to assist rural operations in the public sector:

These grants help public bodies, nonprofit corporations, and federally recognized Indian tribal groups finance and facilitate development of small and emerging private business enterprises located in rural areas.  Grant funds can pay for the acquisition and development of land and the construction of buildings, plants, equipment, access streets, and roads, parking areas, utility and service extensions, refinancing, and fees for professional services, as well as technical assistance and related training, startup costs and working capital, financial assistance to a third party, production of television programs to rural residents, and rural distance learning networks[8]


The Business Opportunities division was created to assist in training farmers and exploring various economic enterprises in rural communities; "This program promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs.  Funds are provided for technical assistance, training, and planning activities that improve economic conditions.  Applicants must be located in rural areas". [9] Renewable Energy and Efficiency Loans and Grants are dispersed to farmers who are exploring options in alternative forms of energy; "This program encourages agricultural producers and small rural businesses to develop renewable and energy-efficient systems". [10] The Cooperative Development organization succors farmers with partnerships to grow business:

These grants finance establishment and operation of centers for cooperative development.  The primary purpose of this program is to enhance the economic condition of rural areas through the development of new cooperatives and improving operations of existing cooperatives and encourage the development of value-added ventures[11]

The Office of Economic Development facilitates creation of jobs at rural farm sites. The US Government Manual on the Department of Agriculture states:

These loans and grants finance economic development and job creation projects based on sound economic plans in rural areas.  Loans and grants are available to any eligible USDA electric or telecommunication borrower to assist in developing rural areas from an economic standpoint, to generate new job opportunities, and to help retain existing employment. Loans at zero interest ate made primarily to finance business startup ventures and business startup ventures and business expansion projects.  Grants are made to eligible telephone and electric utilities to establish revolving loan programs operated at the local level.  The revolving loan program provides capital to nonprofit entities and municipal organizations to finance business or community facilities that promote job creation in rural areas, for facilities that extend or improve medical care to rural residents, and for facilities that promote education and training to enhance marketable job skill for rural residents[12]

            The program for Intermediate Relending was created to allocate funds to a third party for the purpose of funding farm development; "These loans finance business facilities and community development projects in rural areas.  The Service lends these funds to intermediaries, which in turn provide loans to recipients who are developing business facilities or community development projects". [13]


Timothy Pigford

In the case of Pigford v. Glickman, The USDA's willingness to assist Mr. Pigford and another 13,000 other farmers was called into question.  Pigford, and 400 other plaintiffs, issued a grievance that stated that they were not receiving the assistance promised to rural farmers to support them in developing and cultivating their land.  These farmers believed that they were not rewarded monetary assistance because they were of African descent.  The Genesis of the legislation that was passed by these black farmers starts on the state level with Mr. Pigford in North Carolina; "At issue is the class-action Pigford lawsuit, named after Timothy Pigford, a black farmer from North Carolina who was among the original plaintiffs. Thousands of farmers sued USDA claiming they had for years been denied government loans and other assistance that routinely went to whites".[14] According to the USDA Farm Service Agency, all farmers applying for a loan must first submit an application to their local or state level USDA service center; "We encourage you to contact your local office or USDA Service Center to learn more about our programs and the information you will need for a complete application".[15]





Texas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana


This issue of discrimination in funding for black farmers was particularly germane as it applies to black farmers in North Carolina. According to the USDA one out of every nine black farmers, at the time of the Pigford case, was from North Carolina:

The Pigford decision is one of triumph and tragedy... One out of every nine black farmers lives—or lived, until recently—in North Carolina, including one named Tim Pigford. Like many black farmers, Tim Pigford thought he was going to get a farm ownership loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but he didn't. When he protested to the House Agriculture Committee, he suddenly lost the operating loans he had had access to as a tenant farmer. Then the Farmers Home Administration (part of the Department of Agriculture) foreclosed on his home[16]

Although Pigford's situation may be an isolated one on the micro scale, the macro vantage point displays what can be described as a systemic evaporation of the prominence of the black farmer:

By depriving Pigford of critical loan funds, Pigford lost his farm, but he wasn't alone. Since the turn of the century, the number of black-owned farms has dropped from something around 1,000,000 around the turn of the century to approximately 18,000, proportionally a decrease from 14 percent to around 1 percent of farms[17]

            This depravity in farms owned by African Americans is not just limited to North Carolina. According to the 2007 census of Agriculture, over 74% (24,466) of African-American farmers in the United States reside in Texas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana.  In 2007 the census also shows 348 (757 in 2002) African-American farmers received Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loans amounting to a total of $9.9 million. This averaged $28,408 per participating African-American farmer, about 32% of the national average ($87,917). Average CCC loan value to white farmers was $88,379. In 2007, the Federal government dispensed half the amount of monetary support for black farmers than it did to white farmers; "Other federal farm payments to African-Americanoperated farms averaged $4,260, half the nationalaverage government farm payment of $9,518. About 31%of all African-American farmers received some

Government payment compared to 50% of white farmers".[18]







The Class Action Suit


The multitude of black farmers that shared similar stories to that of Timothy Pigford allowed the black farmers to file a class action lawsuit.  In November of 2008, 2,000 black farmers requested blanket mediation:

Following the August 1997 filing for class action status, the attorneys for the black farmers requested blanket mediation to cover all of the then-estimated 2,000 farmers who may have suffered from discrimination by the USDA. In mid-November 1997, the government agreed to mediation and to explore a settlement in Pigford. The following month, the parties agreed to stay the case for six months while mediation was pursued and settlement discussions took place. Although the USDA had acknowledged past discrimination, the Justice Department opposed blanket mediation, arguing that each case had to be investigated separately[19]

The USDA not only claimed that each case must be reconnoitered on a case-by-case basis, but, the claims were hoary and the USDA was protected by the statute of limitations:

When it became apparent that the USDA would not be able to resolve the significant backlog of individual complaints from minority farmers, and that the government would not yield on its objections to class relief, plaintiffs' counsel requested that the stay be lifted and a trial date be set. On March 16, 1998, the court lifted the stay and set a trial date of February 1, 1999. On October 9, 1998, the court issued a ruling certifying as a class black farmers who filed discrimination complaints against the USDA between January 1983 and February 21, 1997.2 In his ruling, Judge Friedman concluded that the class action vehicle was "the most appropriate mechanism for resolving the issue of liability" in the case.3 A complicating factor throughout the period, however, was a two-year statute of limitations in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), the basis for the suit. Congress, accordingly, passed a measure in the FY1999 omnibus funding law that waived the statute of limitations on civil rights cases for complaints made against the USDA between 1981 and December 31, 1996[20]


The plaintiff and the defendant would eventually settle outside of court.  The Pigford case was coalescedwith the case of another black farmer,Brewington v. Glickman, for the purpose of creating a consent decree to pay the plaintiffs:

As the court date approached, the parties reached a settlement agreement and filed motionsconsolidating the Pigford and Brewington cases, redefining the certified class and requestingpreliminary approval of a proposed consent decree. On April 14, 1999, the court approved theconsent decree, setting forth a revised settlement agreement of all claims raised by the classmembers.5 Review of the claims began almost immediately, and the initial disbursement ofchecks to qualifying farmers began on November 9, 1999[21]


In addition to compensating the black farmers for their mistreatment, the consent decree also established a paradigm that details who is eligible for payment by the federal government:


Under the consent decree, an eligible recipient is an African American who (1) farmed or attempted to farm between January 1981 and December 31, 1996, (2) applied to USDA for farm credit or program benefits and believes that he or she was discriminated against by the USDA on the basis of race, and (3) made a complaint against the USDA on or before July 1, 1997. The consent decree set up a system for notice, claims submission, consideration, and review that involved a facilitator, arbitrator, adjudicator, and monitor, all with assigned responsibilities. The funds to pay the costs of the settlement (including legal fees) come from the Judgment Fund operated by the Department of the Treasury, not from USDA accounts or appropriations[22]


            The Pigford consent decree gives black farmers the option to choose two different reimbursement methods:

The Pigford consent decree basically establishes a two-track dispute resolution mechanism for those seeking relief. The most widely used option—Track A—provides a monetary settlement of $50,000 plus relief in the form of loan forgiveness and offsets of tax liability. Track A claimants had to present substantial evidence (i.e., a reasonable basis for finding that discrimination

happened) that

            • Claimant owned or leased, or attempted to own or lease, farmland;

• Claimant applied for a specific credit transaction at a USDA county office during the applicable period;

• The loan was denied, provided late, approved for a lesser amount than requested, encumbered by restrictive conditions, or USDA failed to provide appropriate loan service, and such treatment was less favorable than that accorded specifically identified, similarly situated white farmers; and

• The USDA's treatment of the loan application led to economic damage to the class member[23]


Track B gives farmers the option of being rewarded a larger stipend if, they provide evidence of a particularly egregious infraction:

Alternatively, class participants could seek a larger, tailored payment by showing evidence of greater damages under a Track B claim. Track B claimants had to prove their claims and actual damages by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., it is more likely than not that their claim is valid). The documentation to support such a claim and the amount of relief are reviewed by a third party arbitrator, who makes a binding decision. The consent decree also provided injunctive relief, primarily in the form of priority consideration for loans and purchases, and technical assistance in filling out forms.7 Finally, plaintiffs were permitted to withdraw from the class and pursue their individual cases in federal court or through the USDA administrative process[24]


The USDA has disbursed over one billion dollars in Track A reimbursement as evidenced by the chart below:








            The decision to award the black farmers with compensation for acts of discrimination was not met without counterattack.  There were several other groups that had issues with the Pigford settlement. The former associate general counsel, J. Michael Kelly, believes that giving retribution to such a large constituency leaves plenty of room for error:

What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud. "I think a lot of people were disappointed," said J. Michael Kelly, who retired last year as the Agriculture Department's associate general counsel. "You can't spend a lot of years trying to defend those cases honestly, then have the tables turned on you and not question the wisdom of settling them in a broad sweep."[26]

The settlement was also protested by other factions that believed that they were equally mistreated, or, discriminated against. As a result, the other remonstrated groups were included when the case was revisited and amended to include them; "In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion".[27] This reorganization of to include other assemblages has led to more skepticism:


From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.  Yet those concerns were played down as the compensation effort grew. Though the government has started requiring more evidence to support some claims, even now people who say they were unfairly denied loans can collect up to $50,000 with little documentation[28]


False claims ran rampant, particularly, in impoverished rural areas.  There were even incidences reported of local and state employees being implicated in fraudulence:


But Mr. Cross, the Pine Bluff lawyer, has his suspicions. "It got out of control," said Mr. Cross, adding that he had filed about 1,500 claims, including Mr. Wright's and the apparent duplicates. He estimated that up to 15 percent of Arkansas claims were fraudulent. Claimants described how, at packed meetings, lawyers' aides would fill out forms for them on the spot, sometimes supplying answers "to keep the line moving," as one put it. Even his own staff was complicit, Mr. Cross said; he discovered that four employees had been slipping unverified claims into stacks of papers that he signed. He did not inform the court monitor, he said, because "the damage was done[29]



These claims of impropriety were countered by rebuttals from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund.  To the belief that the settlement led to fraud: "False. Claimants and the attorneys had to sign the claim form under penalty of perjury. The claims facilitator screened out frivolous claims by underage individuals. While few documents existed, every claim was subject to scrutiny be a team of USDA officials. The claims were decided by experienced neutrals and, in the end, 30% of all claims were denied".[30]To the claim that lawyers filled out forms at the cite where stipends were rewarded, the Cooperative proclaims; "This never happened at the 250+ meetings conducted by class counsel. They were instructed not to sign claim forms under penalty of perjury unless they believed that the individual had a valid claim. On average, they turned away 25% of the claimants and were criticized by many who believed that the claim process was too rigorous".[31] The Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund also denies that compensation was granted without justification, stating:


That is incorrect. Each claim in Pigford I, to be successful, had to establish sufficient facts by the claimants own declaration (which is proof in court like any testimony) that he or she suffered discrimination, including the names of white farmers who got the specific farm loan benefit he or she was denied. Then, USDA could, and in many cases did, submit evidence that it believed contradicted the claimants declaration. All this evidence was evaluated by a trained adjudicator. This process simply cannot be described as one in which the farmer can win without any proof of bias[32]



Lawrence Lucas


For the purpose of this research Lawrence Lucas, President of the USDA Coalition Of Minority Employees, was interviewed.  Mr. Lucas was a political appointee of Jimmy Carters administration and an employee of the USDA:



 Lawrence C. Lucas came to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1977 as a political appointee during President Jimmy Carter's Administration; after spending five years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a photogrammetric instructor, representing the U.S, Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense.  He holds the distinction of being the first African American Instructor at the Ethiopian Mapping and Geography Institute.  A native Washingtonian, he earned both a Masters of Science Degree in Adult Education, (Administration) from the University of the District of Columbia, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.


During his tenure at USDA, Lucas served as speech writer for former Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland and other members of the subcabinet.  He retired from USDA in 1996, after 37 years of service and became a staunch civil rights advocates.  Lucas has served as president of The U.S. Department of Agriculture Coalition of Minority Employees (The Coalition) since 1994, transforming it into one of the most provocative, creative, and diverse civil rights employee organizations in the history of USDA.  Lucas pioneered a communication program that has benefitted minority farmers and USDA employees and lectured at numerous prestigious institutions (i.e., Tuskegee University, Iowa State University, California Poly Technical University, Pomona, and others), regarding government accountability, civil and human rights, workforce diversity and recruitment and outreach to under served minority communities.  His outspoken support of federal civil rights enforcement has captured the attention of the White House, Members of Congress, and the Media[33]








What was your role while employed by the USDA?


"I came to the USDA, and you'll see that in a bit more detail when you look at the bio on the website, as a political employee with the Carter administration.  And I was a speechwriter.  And at the end of the administration, I went back, because I was a government employee before that, and what I did was, I returned to regular government service and served out the rest of my career and retired from the USDA working in public affairs in 1995…early 1996.  Before that I was born and raised in Washington, DC, went to Federal City College and Howard University, got a Masters Degree in Adult education administration.  And eventually after that graduating in June, I went to the University of Southern California and I acquired a Masters Degree in Public Administration. I ended up at USDA.  I graduated in 1974 from the University of Southern California.  And in 1973 I graduated with my Masters from the University of The District of Columbia".


How did you find out about the black farmers situation?


"Because I had been working at USDA and 1994 during the…my guess would be the first black Secretary of Agriculture in history from Mississippi, he was a congressman under the Clinton Administration, was selected as a cabin member and made secretary of Agriculture, in our effort, knowing about the continued discrimination against employees as well as minority farmers, mainly our focus was black farmers, we controlled an organization called the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees and only employee members.  And as we went forward, we continued to look at complaints and I met John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association, I was giving a speech to the NRCS black employee organization at JC Smith College in North Carolina and John Boyd met me down there. I told him to meet me down there and he had been trying to talk to me but we had been passing each other….that I would sit down while we were in North Carolina and talk to him about this issue in more detail about the black farmers.  I sat down and talked to him in a restaurant, and we started talking to about 9 o'clock, and the restaurant owner allowed us to stay until the restaurant was closed, and we talked to about 12-1 o'clock in the morning.  I was shocked at the depth of the discrimination against black farmers and it wasn't just centrally located in Virginia, where he was from, it was regional, all around the country but, specifically against black farmers and denied programs and other resources by the USDA.  I did the history, and started reading in more detail about how deep it was, but John Boyd explained that to me , along with two other black farmers, one of the black farmers names was Leonard Brown, and Leonard Brown is dead today, not seeing the effort of the National Black Farmers association and many black farmers groups and individuals around the country had surfaced, so that night was very….it actually brought tears to my eyes, to know and hear what he was saying and I promised them from that day forward; I apologize for not making myself available, and I promised them that I will join this fight and stay in this fight as long as my life would allow me and my job responsibilities will allow me to do so.  So that was a turning point. And the rest is history because John Boyd went on along with black farmers, Gary Grant and James Myart and Phil Haynie, from Virginia, and Eddie Slaughter from Georgia, Michael Stovall from Alabama, Leroy Smith from Mississippi, its just so many farmers around the country. Some of these farmers are still fighting this problem today. So that's how   I became involved and from that meeting I've participated in every major hearing, on black farmer issues, and many of them, not all of them, but I have also pushed for hearings and I have spoken on Capital Hill. I have spoken at universities and colleges around the country, Virginia, North Carolina, Tuskegee University, (inaudible) Virginia Tech, (inaudible) in Philadelphia about this continued abuse going on with USDA. And from that discussion and all those demonstrations we had, John Boyd bringing the Mule to Washington and walking on Capitol Hill, riding his mule all the way from Virginia, and the effort of the organization of black farmers, made up of not just John Boyd, but and amalgamation of a group of determined black people, to fight of the vestiges of the slave mentality. And to be more accurate the plantation, the organization that the USDA is called, and its called that for a reason, which is the last plantation and is the last plantation for not only black farmers and minority farmers, but for the employees that work there. And that exists not only under past administrations but it exists in administrations today, even though we have a black president, the discrimination against minority employees, women employees, the abuse against them and still against the black farmers today is remarkably the same and the civil rights today under this administration is worse than the civil rights of republican administrations and other democratic administrations.  President Clinton called his people in and they met with the farmers and they corrected the problem.  He took Dan Glickman there and they did a remarkable job with all what they did in the late 90's up to 1980, when things changed all of that has been erased since the fouling and the settlement of Pigford was done, if I'm not mistaken, in 1987.  We had the Pigford Settlement. Since the settlement you have discrimination that has existed and still has not resolved itself under this administration". 



What are the challenges that black farmers have faced on the state and local level?


"There faced with the same problems they were faced with at the advent of Pigford.  The same thing that they are experiencing now, they experienced with the advent of Pigford. That settlement commenced negotiations in 1998, and in October of 1999 some fourteen months later, the case was filed.  What they experienced was that when they went into the county offices, (inaudible) America, they were treated differently than their counterparts, obviously white farmers.  They were refused loans, they were refused conservation and construction loans. They were refused access to the same programs that benefited white farmers.  That is still going on today.  Their was a Pigford I and there is now a Pigford II, where many of the farmers after the settled the claim and it was all settled, many of the farmers in Pigford I were not contacted, so therefore we got a bill passed to make sure that those farmers that were left out in Pigford and not informed were in Pigford II, which is closing down this May.  In other words it has ended.  So what you got is the same problems that you had with black farmers are the same problems that you have today.  The worst part of that is this; you have a civil rights office at USDA, headed by Dr. Joe Leonard and the secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, whose the same Secretary of Agriculture who fired Shirley Sherrod, for the wrong and no reason, is still not giving farmers the chances they should get. Even in the case of Pigford I and Pigford II they are not holding people accountable. They have given out billions of dollars of tax payers money and to this day there are very few people held accountable, not only for discriminating against thousands of black farmers, but also hundreds if not thousands of employees. So you have a situation where if you don't have any transparency, where employees can get in and black farmers can get in to file their complaints, then you don't have any justice in the processing of those complaints, which continues to be a problem today, and then you turn around and you don't hold those people accountable, number three, you have chaos.  I think that's one of the three reasons why we need another black farmers movement similar to that one started by John Boyd, now you have a group of Independent Black Farmers, which started out of Alabama, by a Ferrell Oden and Mr. Michael Stovall, now has started a new movement and that movement has been demonstrating and it is demanding the justice from this administration with the processing and the handling of their complaints and the resolution of their complaints.  That's what you have and that is a major problem". 



What are the challenges that black farmers on a national level?


"What they face is a government in America that still feels as though black people should still be treated differently form white people. Not only is that a challenge at the grassroots level in the states in the counties where it all begins, but you have a USDA that is not administering the programs in a fair and just way to make sure when a farmer walks into one of these offices that they are treated with justice, dignity and respect and that if they have been turned down they can file a complaint with the USDA Office of Civil Rights, headed up by Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary, and you have a Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who is not holding Joe Leonard's people accountable so therefore the cases are not being processed fairly. Cases that are being filed are going beyond the statue of limitations. In other words you have tow years to get your cases filed, so they sit there and let these cases go by the way side because they don't process them. So then the statute of limitation passes by and they end up dismissing the case because they didn't process it.  They did the same thing in the case of Pigford. Ever since 1988, during the Reagan administration, they closed the office down; they didn't have a civil rights office processing any complaints. That was proven. Also proven was the fact that the USDA was guilty of discrimination. In other words these farmers didn't get paid for nothing.  They got paid because someone did something wrong either at the field level or the USDA offices and county committees that dole out the money in rural America.  In 1920 we had just short of one million farmers. Now the census tells us in 1992 that we have only 19,000 farmers. Now how can you have a change like that without something that took those farmers off the land? The USDA has failed black farmers. They even have the letters of farmers that were filing complaints sitting in Safeway carts, they were sitting in windows, in an office, and they were sitting on the floor in an office, stacked up. Cases that were filed for years had never been processed. That's why you have a Pigford". 





            The Discrepancy between black farmers and the USDA, on both the state/ local level and federal level, still continues.  At the crux of their issues is race and money. Social and Socio economic issues have plagued the United States since its inception.  Most of the farmers involved in this case are from impoverished rural areas and belong to a part of society that has little to no cache.   The black farmers are what some would consider the voiceless and invisible members of American society. Hopefully, these members of society will cease to be marginalized. 































Works Cited


·         Usda.gov

·         Desmond; Siebert, John W. (2009). "Toward Better Defining the Field of Agribusiness Management". International Food and Agribusiness Management Review12

·         Timothy Pigford, et al., v. Dan Glickman, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture, US District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 97-1978 (PLF). Paul L. Friedman, U.S. District Judge

·         7 U.S.C. 2201

·         http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=USDA_ORG_CHART

·         US Government Manual: Department of Agriculture, p. 98, 99

·         http://www.blackfarmers.org/html/050609.html

·         http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=bfl

·         http://www.dailyyonder.com/print/1098

·         Cowan, Tadlock. The Pigford Case: USDA Settlement of a

Discrimination Suit by Black Farmers. April 21 2010. P.1

·         LaFraniere, Sharon. U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/us/farm-loan-bias-claims-often-unsupported-cost-us-millions.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Gray, Heather. "Sharon LaFraniere got it Wrong!"

Response to the coverage of the Pigford Settlement in the  

·         April 26, New York Times. 29, April 2013

[1] Usda.gov

[2] ibid.

[3]Desmond; Siebert, John W. (2009). "Toward Better Defining the Field of Agribusiness Management". International Food and Agribusiness Management Review12

[4]Timothy Pigford, et al., v. Dan Glickman, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture, US District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 97-1978 (PLF). Paul L. Friedman, U.S. District Judge

[5] 7 U.S.C. 2201

[7] US Government Manual: Department of Agriculture, p. 98


[8] ibid.



[9] Ibid., p. 99



[10] Ibid.



[11] Ibid.


[12] Ibid.


[13] Ibid. 

[17] Ibid.

[18] Cowan, Tadlock. The Pigford Case: USDA Settlement of a

Discrimination Suit by Black Farmers. April 21 2010. P.1

[19] Ibid. p.2

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid. p.3

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid. p.6

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid. 

[30] Gray, Heather. "Sharon LaFraniere got it Wrong!"

Response to the coverage of the Pigford Settlement in the  

April 26, New York Times. 29, April 2013

[31] Ibid. 

[32] Ibid. 

[33] USDA Coalition of Minority Employees http://www.agcoalition.org/Templates/biography.html






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