By Eddie Slaughter, American Agriculturalist Association
On Friday (July 8) at 9 a.m., farmers from the Southern Region and others who believe in justice and equality will descend on the U.S. Supreme Court to once again seek and demand justice through the courts and to bring to light and awareness the unfairness of the settlement of the Pigford Class Action, and the continued discrimination by the USDA – “The Last Plantation.”
The theme is “Are Black Farmers in 2016 the New Dred Scott of 1857?”
The protest will be held on the First Street NE sidewalk directly in front of the Supreme Court. The complaint at the Supreme Court is regarding North Carolina farmers Eddie and Dorothy Wise, who were foreclosed on and evicted from their 106-acre farm on Jan. 20, 2016. Without the Wises ever being granted a hearing, a group of 14 militarily armed federal marshals and several Nash County, N.C. deputy sheriffs carried out the eviction.
Eddie Wise is a retired Green Beret and his wife is a retired grants manager. The Wises’ situation is akin to the Dred Scott Decision of March 6, 1857 (http://www.ushistory.org/us/32a.asp) because black farmers are still being denied full due process. This is one of the most important issues that should be brought before the United States Supreme Court.
While many people in this country think that black farmers across the nation got justice during the Pigford Class Action (Pigford v. Glickman 1999), the opposite is the truth. Black farmers discriminated against by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), formerly called Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), continue to be put out of farming, denied opportunities to make a living, and lose land that impacts the quality of life for them and the rural black communities in which they live.
The time has long expired on the unremitting discrimination and breach of The Pigford Consent Decree. Black farmers are continuously denied due process; in particular, a right to have a formal hearing on the merits of their case before the administrative law judge of the USDA.
Congress has expressed its intent for the USDA to hold the formal hearing on the merits in the 2007 Pigford Remedy Act, which was incorporated in the 2008 Food Energy and Conservation Act or “Farm Bill.” Meanwhile, the USDA is denying all claims and hearings by African-American farmers, women farmers, Hispanic farmers, and Native American farmers. This denial of the formal hearing before the administrative law judge allows 180 days for the agency to correct its own mistakes is unlawful, unjust and contrary to Congressional intent pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act and The Pigford Consent Decree.
If you are a supporter of justice and equality, support black farmers, seek healthy and safe food, join with the black farmers and Eddie and Dorothy Wise, other speakers from the American Agriculturalists Association, the North Carolina-based national Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFAA), The Cowtown Foundation, Lawrence Lucas, president emeritus, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, and others to bring this issue before the United States Supreme Court.
These farmers are asking the question: “Are Black Farmers in 2016 the New Dred Scott of 1857?”
(For more information, contact the American Agriculturalist Association: Eddie Slaughter, President; P.O. Box 0761; Ashburn, Ga. 31714; 229-649-2243; Or, call Cory Lee at 615-308-7787; call Gary R. Grant at 252-578-4729.)