P. 1
Pigford - No One Fired at USDA, Something Just Doesn’t Add Up! - Schafer

Pigford - No One Fired at USDA, Something Just Doesn’t Add Up! - Schafer

|Views: 8|Likes:
Published by PRMurphy
I am shocked by the recent passage of legislation by the US Congress that provides a
settlement for discrimination lawsuits filed by black farmers against the United States
Department of Agriculture. With today’s focus on deficit spending and unaffordable
government debt, Congress has decided to double the amount of dollars spent to date
to settle these claims. Given the fact that there are more claims of discrimination than
there are black farmers, I wonder if members of Congress knew the facts if they would
have voted to spend another $1.2 Billion to settle claims.
I am shocked by the recent passage of legislation by the US Congress that provides a
settlement for discrimination lawsuits filed by black farmers against the United States
Department of Agriculture. With today’s focus on deficit spending and unaffordable
government debt, Congress has decided to double the amount of dollars spent to date
to settle these claims. Given the fact that there are more claims of discrimination than
there are black farmers, I wonder if members of Congress knew the facts if they would
have voted to spend another $1.2 Billion to settle claims.

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: PRMurphy on Dec 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

05/12/2014

pdf

text

original

Pigford: Former Secretary of Agriculture: More Claims Than Farmers; No One Fired at USDA: Something Just Doesn’t Add

Up!

by Ed Schafer http://biggovernment.com/eschafer/2010/12/06/former-secretary-of-agriculture-moreclaims-than-farmers-no-one-fired-at-usda-something-just-doesnt-add-up/ I am shocked by the recent passage of legislation by the US Congress that provides a settlement for discrimination lawsuits filed by black farmers against the United States Department of Agriculture. With today’s focus on deficit spending and unaffordable government debt, Congress has decided to double the amount of dollars spent to date to settle these claims. Given the fact that there are more claims of discrimination than there are black farmers, I wonder if members of Congress knew the facts if they would have voted to spend another $1.2 Billion to settle claims.

After my nomination and subsequent unanimous confirmation as Secretary of USDA, I set about to learn as much about the Department as fast as I could. One initial briefing was by the Under-Secretary for Civil Rights. Included was a brief on several class lawsuits against the Department alleging discrimination against minority farmers. Also, it was noted that there were allegations of the Department dragging its feet in getting claims accredited and processed for the court ordered settlement with black farmers in the Pigford class action litigation. I soon had several visits from organizations representing black farmers urging me to settle all claims quickly. I was concerned about the Department’s handling of discrimination claims and asked that the paperwork be expedited. It was then that I was made aware that there were possibly many claims that were fraudulent and much due diligence was warranted. Understanding that validation and verification of the claims slowed down the process, it was felt that since taxpayers money was at stake that investigations into the propriety of claims were prudent and warranted. I was surprised that over one billion dollars had already been distributed to aggrieved farmers and there were still so many open applications. It just doesn’t seem possible that with somewhere between 18,000 and 33,000 black farmers in the country there could be more than 90,000 claims of discrimination by the USDA. If that many farmers were discriminated against it would mean that the whole Department had a massive conspiracy against black farmers. Wouldn’t you think if that many incidences of discrimination actually took place the perpetrators would have to be pretty visible and easily identified? However, I could find not an indication that even one employee was fired because of discriminating against a black farmer. Something just doesn’t add up! Therefore, I felt that it was necessary to spend the time and money to validate claims so those who had legitimate grievances would be paid and those who did not would not become an undue burden on the taxpayers. While some claimed that a settlement on all claims would be in the best interest of the Department, I thought it would simply be irresponsible to overlook allegations of fraud and abuse because of our responsibility to spend taxpayer’s dollars wisely and efficiently. A one hundred million dollar authorization was included in the 2008 Farm Bill to be used to settle claims a second set of claims that were not covered by the first $1 Billion settlement. This money was needed to validate and verify the claims as there was a huge backlog of pending cases and neither the USDA nor the Department of Justice had the budget flexibility to look at each application and the circumstances to ascertain the validity of the claim. The process would be time consuming and expensive but we owed it to the taxpayers. I am concerned that the new legislation overlooks the validation process with a rush to spend another $1.2 Billion dollars to settle claims without proper determination of

merit. I know that some legislators have said there are verification mechanisms in place that will validate the claims before they are paid, however there must have been an estimation of the number of claims that will be paid hence the amount of dollars authorized in the legislation. If past experience is any indicator, people’s claims will be settled without proper investigation. This is unfair to those who were truly discriminated against and have legitimate claims against the USDA. These farmers deserve to know that their cases were heard and the judgment was in their favor. But by allowing some claimants to get paid that were never engaged in farming or were not in fact discriminated against diminishes the legitimacy of those who were. Inappropriate payments will also sour taxpayer’s attitudes against our government. I urge that our government step back and institute a procedure to properly investigate each claim to see if it is appropriate or not. The allegations of fraud and abuse must be addressed if we are going to assure our citizens that their government is pursuing equal justice for all.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->