University of Arkansas School of Law Professor Susan Schneider has authored
a post on the Agricultural Law Blog agreeing with a Federation of Southern
Cooperatives post refuting claims by a New York Times reporter of fraud linked
to the recovery of settlement proceeds (the Pigford settlement) in litigation
alleging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan program discrimination
against African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and women farmers.

Schneider states that on reading the April 25, 2013, New York Times article, titled “U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination,” “I was alarmed to see errors, omissions, and misleading references . . . [and] I am very disappointed that the author appeared more interested in producing a salacious story than in treating the issue with the respect and depth that it deserved.” She includes a number of details overlooked in the newspaper article and concludes, “casting the story in the cynical tone of political agendas is profoundly insensitive to the many, many deserving claimants who just wanted their government to treat them the same way that it treated a white male farmer. The Times article missed the opportunity to accurately acknowledge the difficulties in righting past wrongs, the complexities of different
cases, and the inability of some in agriculture to move forward.”

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives provides a claim-by-claim refutation,
noting among other matters that the claims process did not encourage
people to lie, the settlement program was not a giveaway—some 30 percent
of all claims were denied—and of the more than 250 meetings conducted by
class counsel, lawyers’ aides did not, as claimed in the article, “fill out forms
for [claimants] on the spot, supplying answers.” The federation concludes
by noting that the New York Times story is “largely anecdotal,” including
commentary from unnamed and embittered USDA officials “who refuse to
admit the undeniable legacy of discrimination at the department,” includes a
misleading presentation of data, and that, of 503 cases referred, the FBI chose
to investigate 60, or 3/10 of 1 percent of the 22,000 claims. See Agricultural
Law Blog, April 29 and May 1, 2013.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.