The Pigford scandal is big enough that there’s no reason to overstate the case or get the facts wrong. Understanding what actually happened should be sufficient to make anyone deeply troubled.
One common misconception is that Pigford is about people who defrauded the government by pretending to be farmers. From the research I’ve done, there’s almost nobody who pretended to be a farmer. The shocking truth is that you didn’t have to fake a farming resume to collect $50,000 — all you had to do was to make a credible enough claim that you “attempted to farm.”
This category of “attempted to farm” was a huge slap in the face to the bona fide black farmers that the Pigford case was supposed to help. Many of these farmers faced real discrimination at the hands of the USDA and it’s clear they had legitimate claims.
In this video clip, you’ll hear what happened right before the consent decree was issued. It’s a class action bait-and-switch. This is Tom Burrell, head of the Black Farmer Agricultural Association, Inc.:
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