A message of fairness and moving forward came from Tom Vilsack, secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture, when the former governor of Iowa was speaking Tuesday to the 68th Annual Professional Agricultural Workers Conference at Tuskegee University.
His audience was a majority Black one and it wouldn’t be surprising if his remarks may have been viewed with skepticism. Vilsack admitted up front the USDA’s history in the area of civil rights was one that has to be improved upon.
Many are waiting for payments from the Pigford II lawsuit brought against the USDA by Black farmers. Some have been waiting years for their payments. In his remarks Tuesday, Dec. 7 to an audience at the Tuskegee University Chapel, Vilsack mentioned the Claims Settlement Act agreement by Congress last week that should speed up the lagging payment process.