Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann has on a number of occasions expressed disdain for the Pigford settlements agreed to by the federal government to compensate Black farmers for discrimination they experienced at the hands of Agriculture Department employees. Indeed, it’s often been done as a duet performed with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who says the settlement is like “modern-day reparations” for African-Americans. He also has criticized efforts to settle suits filed by Hispanic and female farmers.
As the duo toured flooded areas along the Missouri River on Monday, they once again took aim at the Pigford II settlement that authorizes close to $1.2 billion for claims filed by farmers who were denied payments because they missed the filing deadline for Pigford I, The Associated Press reports.
“When money is diverted to inefficient projects, like the Pigford project, where there seems to be proof-positive of fraud, we can’t afford $2 billion in potentially fraudulent claims when that money can be used to benefit the people along the Mississippi River and the Missouri River,” Bachmann said.
Such comments baffle John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, who fought relentlessly on behalf of the farmers until Congress finally appropriated the money needed to fulfill Pigford II. He rejects the notion that fraud will occur because the legislation authorizing the settlement includes provisions to prevent that and questions how the two lawmakers can criticize a process before it has even begun. Even though the settlement won the support of several Republicans, Boyd said, Bachmann and King have continued to view the settlement negatively.
“I think it’s bad for the American people,” Boyd said. “I think if Ms. Bachmann wants to be president of the United States, she should treat all people fairly.”
(Photo: AP Photo/Brett Flashnick)