APPENDIX A: BLACK FARMERS: IT'S STILL ABOUT THE LAND!
58. Black farmers in the United States continue to suffer from unlawful racial discrimination and persecution. Despite anti-discrimination laws, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible. Discrimination in the USDA farm loan and benefits programs has been well documented. This discrimination includes denial of production loans, other financial assistance available to white farmers, and program benefits. Black farmers continue to experience hostility, bias, and outright discrimination especially at the county-level offices of USDA. In the 1980s, the USDA gutted its civil rights enforcement program and USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack, appointed by President Obama, has failed to fire a single employee for discrimination that he maintains “happened twenty years ago.”
59. In 1932, when the USDA was founded, Blacks owned approximately sixteen million acres; today, that has dwindled to approximately three million, and Black farmers are struggling to hold on to that land for themselves and their children. Half of those three million acres are at risk of foreclosure. As Black farmers have been denied access to loans for chemicals and irrigation systems, they possess today the most virgin U.S. farmland available for organic, biodynamic farming.
60. When Black farmers filed a class-action lawsuit against the USDA in Pigford v.Glickman, the Clinton Administration negotiated a settlement in 1999. There has been absolutely no progress since then. The problem has been allowed to fester, and USDA has regressed on the issue of civil rights. Black farmers claim that they are being persecuted for bringing these issues to light and live in fear that USDA will take their farms. They contend that the USDA promised debt relief, but never delivered it. The United States government offsets any payment received by the Black farmers for discrimination by reducing the amounts of their pension, Social Security income, or other federal government payments. Further, because of these deliberate actions on the part of the United States government, Black farmers have poor credit histories that render them no choice but to pay as much as 49% interest when borrowing money to carry out their farming activity.
61. The United States government does not hesitate to spend trillions of dollars on war. It is a shame when the US declares war on a segment of its population.