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McKinney calls on the Bush Administration to end discriminatory conduct toward our Nation's Black Farmers

June 26, 2002

(Washington, DC) - A recent decision by The U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals has unequivocally confirmed that Black farmers have been doubly betrayed, first by the United States Department of Agriculture and then by their own lawyers. In response to this decision, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney today called on President George Bush and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman to put an end to the ongoing legal war against Black Farmers throughout this country and adequately compensate them for the losses they have suffered.

"The release of the legal ruling by the three judge panel of the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals gives legal credence to our ongoing outrage and disappointment over the racists and wrongful actions of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the private lawyers who represented Black farmers in the Black Farmer Class Action Lawsuit, Pigford v. Veneman, which was supposed to right the wrongs of years of the USDA's self-admitted discrimination against Black farmers in the Farm Agency's farm lending programs," stated McKinney.

According to Gary Grant, President of the National Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association (BFAA), "The decree was never workable, causing more than 20,000 Black farmers not be compensated or not to be compensated adequately for the years of discrimination and loss of millions of acres of land and billions of dollars in income because of the illegal, blatant racist tactics of local FmHA and USDA officials."

Families have been personally devastated by the appalling and arrogant actions of the USDA and their failure to pay legally allowable compensatory damages. In Gary Grant's situation, three years ago, OCR signed, sealed and delivered an agreement in the case of his parents and his brother. There was legal finding of over 20 years of discrimination by the Halifax County (NC) FmHA and USDA against his parents and his brother and wife. Currently, his family is more than 1 million dollars in debt to the USDA. While his brother continues to struggle to hold on to his land, both of his parents have passed "without seeing a dime of the money owed to them by USDA," Grant commented.

"I am outraged at the conduct of the US Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Justice Civil Division. The decision filed by Judge Tatel confirms legally what I have said for the past three years, these agencies have never had the intention to correct the horrendous discrimination against black farmers," stated McKinney.

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