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Trio calls for Pigford investigation

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Republicans call for DOJ investigation of Pigford settlements, allege widespread fraud and claim whistleblowers are prepared to testify.

Congressmen, alleging “massive, widespread fraud” amongst claimants and attorneys in the Pigford settlements, have called on the Department of Justice to open an investigation. During a Wednesday press conference, legislators said whistleblowers – including an FBI agent, USDA employees and black farmers – are prepared to testify about the malfeasance.

For more on potential fraud in the Pigford case, see USDA's settlement with black farmers

The trio of Republicans – Iowa Rep. Steve King, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte – said they want legitimate cases of USDA discrimination against black farmers to be rectified. However, they made clear that plenty of evidence has surfaced that deserves to be addressed by investigators.

King said more USDA employees wanted to speak on the record regarding the case but were fearful of losing their jobs.

The press conference can be seen at conference  

Interestingly, also on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called on Congress to fund the $1.15 billion settlement.

“While members of Congress have noted the bipartisan support for this legislation, it is time for Congress to turn their support into action and fund the settlement agreement once and for all,” said Vilsack. “The time for Congressional action to fund the settlement agreement is running out, and the victims of this discrimination should not need to wait a day longer. Congress should not leave today without exhausting every option for passing legislation that provides for the funding.”

Vilsack’s statement came only days after several farm-state legislators -- including Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and North Carolina Sen. Kay R. Hagen – announced they would propose a bill to fund last February’s $1.15 billion settlement.

Unfortunately for those wanting an investigation, the agitating trio of legislators – especially King and Bachmann -- are widely seen as beholden to right-wing, even fringe, cultural interests making it easier to dismiss their claims regarding the Pigford settlements. If their voices are not joined by a more inclusive chorus, the chances of an investigation or hearings on Pigford certainly lessen.

Unsurprisingly, in an August interview with Delta Farm Press, John Boyd, president of the Black Farmers Association, hit King hard over his Pigford stance.

“When I hear that stuff from (Iowa Rep.) Steve King … you have to ask ‘what is he ever for?’ I’ve been testifying before Congress many times and he’s always there. What does he support? What is he for?

“If he has a problem with black farmers stating their claim against the government, then where is his urgency of need to stop the discriminating against black farmers? I haven’t seen that statement.

“We have 80,000, or so, black farmers saying they have a problem being mistreated by the federal government. What’s his stand on fixing that?”

Now we know.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

Melissa Seaver (not verified)
on Oct 14, 2010
Your missing the whole point, there should be no discussion, if you have made a settlement, you should pay it.End of Story! Now, on the other hand, the misconduct here, in stalling, should be costing, you more in interest for holding up this already approved issue. As far as discrimination, and retaliation, it goes further than skin tone deep. Including one of the lawyers involved, in the 1990's right as the first Pigford suit, hit the farm magazines, I personally called the number and asked for Mr. Pires, he seemed interested,at least enough to hear me out, then he says I'm sorry but you are not how shall we say you are not pigmented enough, to be included into the "Black Farmers Suit" It is my first hand knowledge that a few of the Black Farmers that I have met, that have been turned down for inclusion, we have some of the same form letters from the FSA(Farm Service Agency,formerly FmHA) and except for the names and dates and addresses, we found that they were very similar, right down to the people they came from and we are from different States . And the other thing that has become very clear, is that the USDA knows there is Coal,Oil, Natural Gas, and other valuable Assets under the surface, of our farms, and they paid their employees, huge bonuses to defraud us farmers, form across the country, and in doing so, they harmed children, elderly and disabled family members, rustled livestock, and stole and destroyed private personal and real property, including equipment, money, and refused payments ans sum certain payoffs. Why do you ask would they do this, bonuses for foreclosures, money, money,money, and sometimes land, on more than one occasion, I have talked to farmers who have USDA employees or former USDA employees, living in or on the farms and homes they foreclosed on. And in more than one of these communities the county offices, such as the county auditor and or treasurer, and most if not all the local banks and farm lenders and government programs, that deal in funds, are or have had a family with relatives in more than one of these positions and lucky us since the 80's one family has had an inside straight in all of these institutions and government programs, and we all know that we were told to send complaints to the Office of Civil Rights in an article forwarded to me from Iowa Public Television show Market To Market even when the GOA office went to investigate the Office of General counsel was there fouling things up, so they think Truth won't prevail, but it will. from the BIBLE: Luke 11:46, And he said," Woe unto you also, for ye lade men with burdens, grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burden with one of your fingers". And , Luke 11: 52 " Woe, unto you, Lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge : ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." These statements from the bible, I believe to be speaking volumes to those Lawyers and others who have taken part in these Frauds on these farms, men and families, all across the nation and the world. My name is Melissa Seaver, of Scottsburg, Indiana (812)752-6611. I am of Mestizos(mixed) blood, but my parentage goes back to the foundation , (father of the Bill Of Rights George Mason IV/ my 6th great grandfather)of this country and native origins also. One last thought for you, my husbands grandfather bought his farm in 1914, when gold backed the currency, no this fictitious, paper, that costs the government 6cents to write, what about the rest of you, when did your farms come into your families possession? What about historical value?

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