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Turning the Page on Discrimination at USDA

Since my first day as Secretary of Agriculture in January 2009, President Obama and I have made resolving USDA’s troubled civil rights record one of our top priorities.  Today we have taken an important step forward in this work as the House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010 to finally allow USDA to turn the page on past discrimination against black farmers.  The inequities many faced are well-documented and affirmed in the courts; however, the question of compensation has lingered.

The Claims Settlement Act will allow those that have been waiting to get the relief they deserve and have long been promised. USDA has worked with Congress to include strong protections against waste, fraud, and abuse and ensure that only deserving applicants are reimbursed under this settlement.

On Monday, I joined a conference call (audio) with representatives from the Department of the Interior and Justice to applaud the Senate’s choice to approve the fully paid-for $1.15 billion settlement and to urge the House to finalize this long-awaited resolution.  I applaud the House for acting so quickly, as we can focus our attention on resolving other cases and claims.

I’m proud of the many critical steps we’ve taken in the past months to right the wrongs of the past, but more work remains to be done. I have put into action an all-encompassing program to correct our past errors, learn from those mistakes, and outline definitive action to ensure there will be no missteps in the future.  The process has been long and often difficult, but we can’t wait any longer to close this sad chapter in USDA’s history.

9 Responses to “Turning the Page on Discrimination at USDA”

  1. Melinda J G Hyman says:

    Please don’t turn the page yet The Emanuel Freeman Sr case is still pending in a dispute with The USDA & FSA dept.This case needs urgent attention.We have been constantly denied our right’s.There needs to be some intervention.Denied to become a Century Farm when we have been 1 family owning The Freeman Estate for 105 years ,we have been denied goverment programs.
    There has been limited transparency to resolve our great great grandfather’s and ancestor’s estates.No closure road blocks to apply for probate.Trustee’s that won’t contact us undertone threat’s.So our family can’t even enjoy the inheritance.Two family graveyards that our ancestor’s repectful remains are being disrepected. The Freeman family can’t even feel comfortable about visiting what do we do?

  2. Tim Pletcher says:

    The only discrimination I have seen was against the WHITE MALE. I was told this fall, That since my patch was under 10 acres I would not be getting a payment. When asked why, I was informed that if I was a man of color or a female I would receive the payment. When I stated isn’t that sex and race descrmination, the answer was yes, but what are you going to do about it, that is the way congress set it up.

  3. Exzena Carter says:

    I am a 28 year old black young lady that is trying to live a life that really is sat up for me to fail. The reason for this feelings is when we apply for grants or other things in society we are asked one main question and that is are gender, if its not the gender of a white american then are applications is denied. With out seeing if we qualify for the grants or not. Things like this been happening for along time now is there anyway we can get back something that have been taking from us for a hundred plus years. No disrepect to noway I just believe we deserve a lot of things.

  4. Moe Hawkins says:

    Mr. Fletcher, many people have suffered discrimination due to the rules that whites created to exclude others. Additional rules for certain situations have been created to re-dress those wrongs, thats all. Unfortunately, white americans spend too much time claiming reverse discrimination in those cases and not enough time addressing the real issues of discrimination that exist such as bilingual education which costs this country a trillion dollars a year. It is discrimination because it not to address a discriminatory act but gives privilege to a specific ethic group, Hispanics. Maybe, you should complaint about that. Incidentally, I am aware that the bilingual education was created to improve the blight of migrant hispanic farm workers immigrants specifically which was for the benefit of white farmers.

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  9. J. Alexander says:

    Oftentimes I read or view stories like this and it makes me think to myself it is unfortunate that we still have to fight against this type of law or rule. Are we moving forward? Maybe so, if we keep on fighting.

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