WASHINGTON, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on Pigford settlement agreement funding today approved by the U.S. Senate:
"President Obama and I pledged not only to treat all farmers fairly and equally, but to right the wrongs of the past for farmers who faced discrimination. Today, the Senate took a bold step and provided the funding to give relief to black farmers who have suffered from discrimination that is well-documented and has been affirmed by the courts. I want to commend Senator Reid, Senator Grassley, and the bipartisan coalition of Senators for their leadership in working to right these wrongs.
"This announcement marks a major milestone in USDA's efforts to turn the page on a sad chapter in our history. Civil rights is a top priority of mine, and since coming to USDA, I have implemented a comprehensive program to correct past errors, learn from mistakes, and take definitive action to ensure that all of our customers are treated fairly. This announcement is yet another step to help move us forward into a new era as a model employer and premier service provider."