Pigford v. Glickman was supposed to help black farmers discriminated against by the USDA. Instead, it's diverted hundreds of millions of dollars to people who never farmed and diverted attention away from the plight of real farmers.
The people helping to perpetuate the Pigford fraud have myriad motivations. There's the lure of proximity to a multibillion-dollar pile of cash. There are complex ideological reasons related to racial injustice both real and perceived. There are political motivations that balance bringing a stealth stimulus back home to constituents with a lockstep party loyalty. There are personal rivalries and a clinging desire to maintain relevance and minor celebrity. Some mix of all of these motivations exists in many of the personalities surrounding Pigford but whatever the motive, the most aggrieved victims are the black farmers themselves.
But don't take my word for it. Just ask black farmers like Willie Head and Eddie Slaughter. These Georgia farmers were among the first few hundred to file claims in Pigford before the settlement was hijacked by tens of thousands of people who claimed to have "attempted to farm" and received $50,000 checks using the intentionally low bar of proof that was required.
I've been traveling around the South the past month interviewing people close to the Pigford settlement and it's clear to me that the people who this fraud has hurt the most are hard-working Americans like Eddie and Willie. They have been pressured not to talk about the fraud, in some cases by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Here, Willie Head discusses how improper claims in the Pigford settlement have hurt him.
There's proof that Pigford is being sold as reparations behind closed doors while the defenders of the current settlement call critics racist for questioning Pigford.
Eddie Slaughter discusses how members of the Congressional Black Caucus see the Pigford claims as reparations.