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Black Farmers Say NYT “Investigation” Inaccurate

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 20:28
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Network of Black Farmers Calls New York Times Investigation ‘Inaccurate’

from left to right: Eddie Carthan (Mississippi Association of Farmers); Ralph Paige (Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund); (Gary Grant (Black farmers and Agriculturalists Association; and Willard Tillman (in back of the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project) Photo courtesy of the Network of Black Farmers.

by Jamilah King, Monday, April 29 2013, 9:59 AM EST 

Black farmers are once again in the spotlight, but this time they’re defending themselves against accusations of fraud. Just a few years after winning a landmark $1.33 billion settlement for decades of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the New York Times published a deeply critical look at those court judgements. The Times’ investigation alleges widespread fraud and questions whether similar settlements should be made with Latino and women farmers, as mandated by the Obama administration’s political appointees in the Justice and Agriculture Departments.

From the Times:

The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.

Soon after the Times published its findings, the Network of Black Farmers issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the paper’s claims. When I reached the network’s Heather Gray by phone this morning, she underlined an important point. “The New York Times inappropriately targeted black farmers who are the victims [of discrimination] rather than talking about the behavior of the Agriculture Department, which has for years denied its services to its [black] U.S. citizens.”

See a portion of the farmers’ rebuttal after the jump.


  • The story is largely anecdotal – sure there are people at USDA who are vested in the system who refuse to admit the undeniable legacy of discrimination at the department.


• The presentation of data is misleading. The number of farms operating in 1997 is essentially irrelevant. The case covers a 16 year period during which there were over 125,000 African Americans engaged in farming at one time or another.

• Minimal documentation was required because 1) USDA destroyed the denied loan applications and civil rights complaints; 2) the case went back to 1981 so many folks had lost or destroyed their own records. It went back to 1981 because USDA shut down its civil rights office in the early 80’s so minorities were denied the opportunity to present their claims at a time when they would have had records.

• Out of 503 cases referred to the FBI, they chose to investigate 60 – 3/10 of 1 percent of the 22000 claims. That is miniscule. morehere

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Total 2 comments
  • Banderman

    The race that claims they are ‘perfect in every way’.

  • desertspeaks

    wow some blacks fraudulently lining up for yet another government handout, who woulda thunk it??

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