THE SENATE Agriculture Committee has approved President Bush's choice for USDA Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights. Vernon Bernard Parker of Paradise Valley, Ariz., must now await confirmation by the full Senate.

Created with the signing of the 2002 farm bill, the job of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Civil Rights is to insure compliance with all civil rights and related laws by all agencies, and under all programs, of the Department of Agriculture.

“My hope lies, in that, if confirmed, I will be able to make a difference in the lives of those who may have had their hopes and dreams put on hold or destroyed because of injustice,” Parker says. “As public servants, it is our duty to respect the dignity, and foster the promises to those who are touched by government programs; these are simple and basic American values.”

“The prevention of Civil Rights abuses at the USDA is an investment in our values, a decision of the Congress and the president to see that the resources of this government reach all those Congress intended to benefit,” he adds. “We must use the legislative and executive authorities to get the job done, rather than wait for courts to act as government administrators.”