March 29, 2001
President George W. Bush
Dear President Bush:
African American farmers have been systematically discriminated against by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) since the inception of the agency. Today, Black farmers are being denied due process through conspiracy, trickery and deception between the USDA, Class Council and the US Justice Department.
The US Federal District Court, District of Columbia, has found that the USDA has in fact practiced, implemented and otherwise instituted policies and procedures which disparately impacted African American farmers based solely on their race between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1996 in the landmark PIGFORD v. GLICKMAN.
A Consent Decree was entered on April 14, 1999 over the objections of the Black farmers, and over twenty-five thousand farmers applied and more than twenty one thousand were admitted into the class. However approximately 40% of the claimants have been rejected.
Of the approximately 60% of the farmers admitted to the class, fewer than 10% of those approved for monetary relief have been granted DEBT FORGIVENESS. USDA employees who discriminated against Black farmers are being permitted to assess the successful claims for debt forgiveness.
The continued delays of payment and other tactics against class members threatens more than 1.5 million acres of land to be lost due to the Consent Decree.
We therefore petition you, the Chief Executive Officer of the united States of America, to require that just compensation be paid immediately to all African-American farmers party to the Pigford vs Glickman Consent Decree and that settlement be made expeditiously to those claimants wrongfully denied settlement pursuant to the terms of the Consent Decree.
Your most judicial review is warranted.
I remain yours for
Peace, Justice & Equality,
Gary R. Grant, President
cc: Congressman J.C. Watts
March 29, 2001
To: President George W. Bush
From: Gary R. Grant, President
Re: DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS OF BLACK FARMERS THROUGH THE PIGFORD V. GLICKMAN CONSENT DECREE
Pre-Approval of the Consent Decree
Class counsel failed to discuss the terms of the agreement with the lead plaintiffs prior to making the agreement.
Class counsel failed to make the monetary award tax exempt by declaring it for pain and suffering. Hence, farmers on fixed incomes will loose their social security and Medicaid benefits because the $50,000 Track A award is deemed income.
Class counsel failed to treat Track A as a class settlement, Claimant should only have had to prove that they were black and attempted to farm during the relevant time period.
Class counsel should have required only an affidavit from the farmer or allowed affidavits from family members to corroborate the complaints of discrimination, because people usually don't bring friends to the USDA office to discuss confidential credit and loan information.
Class counsel failed to account for USDA's failure to adequately supervise the manor in which guaranteed loans were administered by private lenders.
Post Approval of the Consent Decree
Class counsel allowed the Government to extend the 60-day deadline for submission of detracting or adverse information regarding a claim to as long as 6 months.
Class counsel agreed to change the language of the Consent Decree to be more restrictively read by requiring that the similarly situated specifically identified white farmer receive a loan within 3 months of the Claimant, a Black farmer, being denied an application and/or loan, normally, this period is at least a year and in disparate impact cases it can be a much longer period.
Class counsel agreed to decrease the time period from which a Claimant could seek Monitor review (appeal) of an adverse decision from 5 years to 120 days. Class counsel has been unable to meet this deadline causing thousand of farmers with potentially legitimate claims to be forever denied.
Class counsel has failed to adequately raise the issue that less than 10% of the successful Track A Claimants have received any form of debt write-off and of the Claimant's receiving debt write-off less than $17,000 has been written-off by the Government.
Class counsel agreed to reduce the no credit benefit to a $3,000 award for all Track A recipients who are successful regardless of the number of non credit benefit programs the Black farmer may have been denied, thus low-balling the value of those claims.
Class counsel agreed to deny debt write-off to successful Claimants if the debt was part of an administrative or legal action in which appeal rights have been exhausted. Many Black farmers erroneously received deficiency judgment against them or filed for bankruptcy as a direct result of the discriminatory acts of USDA officials in the extension of credit and loan servicing. These farmers would continue to be saddled with this unlawful debt.
CENTRAL THEME OF WHAT WE SEEK
To pay all of the approximately 20,000 claimants in the lawsuit in both track A.
To adhere to the procedure for the Track B Cases and pay those farmers.
To write off all the debt of any farmer who is successful in his or her case.
That there be no tax liability on any successful claim.