Pigford II Scandal
By: Mark Hyman
In 1997,Â Timothy Pigford sued the Department of Agriculture alleging he was treated unfairly in farm loan decisions because he is black.Â His case became a class action lawsuit known asPigford v. Glickman.Â [Dan] Glickman was the Secretary of Agriculture [March 1995-January 2001] when this occurred.
The Department of Agriculture offered aÂ settlement and estimated about 2,000 black farmers were affected.Â Instead more than 22,000 filed claims.Â And more than one billion dollars was paid out.
But, there were complaints that there were still more black farmers entitled to compensation.Â So, they wereÂ invited to submit claims.Â They did.Â More than 70,000.Â This second group became known asÂ Pigford II.
Last year, Attorney-General Eric HolderÂ announced he had set aside $1.25 billion to pay these new claims.Â The problem is there were only 33,000 black farms in existence during the affected time period [1983-1997].Â Â Yet 94,000 people have come forwardÂ claiming [see page H4267 of link] they were victims.
Last week, Congressman Steve King of Iowa [R-IA-5]Â offered anÂ amendment to an [Agriculture]appropriations bill that would have stopped paying any more claims until a thorough investigation is conducted.Â The amendment was soundlyÂ defeated.
If this goes forward, nearly $2.5 billion will be paid to — well, who knows?Â There were only 33,000 black farmers but more than 94,000 people have filed claims.
Pigford II is just the latest free-money government program that should be investigated.Â After all, you’re paying for it.
Mark Hyman hosts "Behind the Headlines," a commentary program for Sinclair Broadcast Group.