Congressmen Charge Black Farmer Settlement Rife With Fraud

National Legal and Policy Center more than once has called it a shakedown. Now three members of Congress are suggesting as much. Yesterday Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., held a press conference to call for a Justice Department probe of an out-of-court class-action settlement against the U.S. Department of Agriculture initiated by black farmers during the late Nineties. The suit, known as Pigford v. Vilsack, or simply “Pigford II,” alleges the USDA starting in the early Eighties had discriminated on the basis of race in administering various grant and loan programs. Yet the details of the case strongly suggest that the evidence of willful discrimination was at best was fragmentary and often fraudulent.

It’s a familiar story: official capitulation to accusations of racial discrimination, minus any systematic evidence. This past February, lawyers for the Agriculture Department and thousands of black farmers …