WASHINGTON, DC –Representative Marcia L. Fudge (DOH-11) delivered the following statement on the House floor in support of HR 4783. The bill would help implement a $1.15 billion settlement with black farmers who were victims of discrimination by US Department of Agriculture officials, in a case known as Pigford II. The bill also addresses a $3.4 billion settlement of another case, Cobell vs. Salazar, with American Indians who alleged mismanagement of trust accounts against the US Department of Interior.
“Eleven years ago tens of thousands of black farmers settled a landmark court case, which addressed years and years of discrimination by the Department of Agriculture.
“Finally, finally today Madame Speaker, these farmers–these men and women who literally put food on our tables– are receiving justice.
“While litigation against the USDA for discrimination against black farmers began in August of 1997 with the Pigford vs. Glickman case, the injustice spanned decades.
“Over 66,000 black farmers were routinely denied USDA farm loans or forced to wait, and wait, and wait for loan approvals longer than non-minorities. These farmers faced foreclosure and financial ruin because of USDA’s discriminatory denials and unconscionable actions. Many of these farmers died, helplessly waiting.
“Today, finally this Congress will pass the funding legislation, which is about more than just money. Today’s vote is about justice.
“Now, make no mistake: I do indeed take issue with redirecting money from our Nation’s needy infants and children to right this wrong. However, justice delayed is justice denied.
“And I would hope that my colleagues across the aisle, we’ve been talking about Pigford for years. If there is fraud, where is your proof? Madame Speaker, I say today that there is no fraud. The courts have put in every single hoop they can put in for black farmers to jump through. It is time for us to pay these people their just due. With that, I yield back.”