By Sara Wyant
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc
Washington, Sept. 27- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to request a meeting this week to discuss allegations of serious fraud in the disbursement of Pigford v. Vilsack settlement money. Pigford v. Vilsack is the class action lawsuit initiated by black farmers who claimed to have been discriminated against by USDA employees. King’s request was mailed to Secretary Vilsack Friday.
“There is a growing firestorm over the allegations of massive fraud in the Pigford settlements,” said King. “According to sworn testimony by John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association, there are 18,000 black farmers. They could not all have been victims of discrimination. To date, there have been over 94,000 claims made. These numbers speak to massive fraud, meaning that American taxpayers are on the hook for what Pigford judge Paul Friedman called ‘forty acres and a mule.’”
“The Senate may be poised to pass the Obama administration’s request for additional Pigford funding. Pigford payouts must be stopped until Congress and the USDA can conduct a thorough investigation,” says King. Last week, a trio of southern Democratic Senators introduced a bill to fund USDA’s settlement with black farmers. To listen, click here:
“It is common practice for Secretaries of Agriculture to sit down with members of the Agriculture Committee,” adds the Iowa congressman. “It is uncommon for the topic of conversation to be as urgent and expensive as Pigford, with a price tag of $2.3 billion. Secretary Vilsack has an obligation to the American taxpayers to cooperate with an investigation of Pigford fraud.”
For more on the Pigford case: