Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced his intention to appoint several members of socially disadvantaged groups to several U.S. Department of Agriculture county committees.
Vilsack’s announcement comes in light of recent court settlements of longstanding lawsuits initiated by African American farmers who alleged discrimination at the hands of USDA loan officers. The Pigford Cases involved allegations that farm officials systematically denied agricultural loans to black farmers.
In the aftermath of this, and other class action discrimination suits, the USDA has gone to great lengths to reverse its tarnished image. Vilsack and other USDA officials have made statements welcoming and encouraging minority farmers to take part in Farm Service Agency elections, praising the benefits of diversity.
Vilsack’s recent announcement has committed the USDA to appoint socially disadvantaged farmers to county committee positions. “As we continue to build a USDA that is responsive to the needs of an evolving, 21st century agricultural economy, we must ensure a strong and sustainable future for these important committees,” said Vilsack. “Appointing new voting members to committees that lack representation will help ensure that county committees continue to play a vital and relevant role in delivering important federal farm programs to citizens of rural communities across our nation.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer