Today marks the end of February, and National African American History Month, which has given us an opportunity to reflect on the value of the contributions made to our great nation by African Americans, and in particular, African American farmers and ranchers. To celebrate here in Washington, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted an event on February 22 celebrating the life and work of African Americans who have made great contributions to the farming community, including the famous scientist, botanist, educator and inventor, George Washington Carver. Today, to round out National African American History Month, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke to employees about “Civil Rights in the Age of Obama.” Read more »
USDA is committed to ensuring the integrity and impartiality of the claims process. A neutral, third party has been tasked with overseeing all aspects of the process, including notifications, to make certain that it is fair and equitable. As we move forward, we’re focused on making sure our programs are more inclusive and accessible than ever to all Americans.
Today is an historic day for USDA. Working with colleagues at the Department of Justice, we launched a program that provides a path to justice for Hispanic and women farmers who believe they were discriminated against by USDA between 1981 and 2000. Many of these farmers and ranchers have waited and fought to get relief, but until now their only means of getting their complaints heard was to file an individual case in federal court. Today we are providing folks with a simpler path that enables them to file a claim for compensation that will be resolved by a neutral party without the involvement of the courts. Read more »
Hoy es un día histórico para el Departamento de Agricultura. En colaboración con nuestros colegas en el Departamento de Justicia, hemos iniciado un programa que les ofrece un camino hacia la justicia a agricultores hispanos y mujeres agricultoras quienes consideran fueron objeto de discriminación por el Departamento de Agricultura entre 1981 y el 2000. Muchos de estos agricultores y ganaderos han esperado y luchado para recibir compensación, pero hasta ahora la única manera de que se escucharan sus quejas era presentar una demanda individual ante un tribunal federal. Hoy estamos dándoles a las personas una vía más simple que les permite presentar una reclamación para recibir compensación, que será resuelta por una parte neutral sin participación de las cortes. Read more »
As we begin a new year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on USDA’s accomplishments in 2010. Last year, millions of families, communities and businesses across the nation benefitted from USDA’s programs. Even during these tough economic times, working with the rest of the Obama Administration, USDA has produced real results for Americans.
Since I came to USDA, we have taken steps to put Americans back to work while rebuilding a strong foundation for sustainable future economic growth – especially in our rural communities. We provided over $1 billion in financing to help thousands of small and emerging rural businesses expand, grow and innovate, creating or saving nearly 200,000 jobs. We supported the construction and renovation of 1,400 critical community facilities projects for millions of rural residents including 312 education facilities, 196 libraries, 179 health care facilities, and 563 fire, rescue, and public safety facilities. The Recovery Act gave us a real boost in these efforts. Described in our Working for Rural Communities Report, these investments continue to create jobs and stimulate economic activity in rural communities so that unemployment rates are dropping around rural America. Read more »
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. Read more »
Two weeks ago Secretary Vilsack took a moment to share some of his thoughts about USDA’s sad history on civil rights and the progress we have made to put it behind us. I was not surprised to see the outpouring of thoughts and comments that blog post inspired, including many from USDA employees. Read more »