by Monica Davis
For decades and through multiple administrations, whistleblowers, women, minorities and disadvantaged farmers have endured abuse from federal employees. They have endured rape, beatings, domestic terrorism, illegal foreclosures, unconstitutional firings, retaliation, harassment and disciplinary actions from elements within the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its associated divisions—the Farm Services Agency and the US Forest Service.
USDA has driven thousands of farmers out of business by manipulating loan agreements, withholding timely loan payments, and illegally colluding with bankers, auctioneers, real estate companies and favored farmers to strip minority, disadvantaged and unfavored farmers and ranchers of their land. Through a variety of documented illegal tactics, which have included perjory, document forgery, harassing phone calls, illegal surveillance, rape and beatings, EPA, USDA, FSA and the US Forest Service have denied federal employees and clients of their constitutional rights.
Farmers, ranchers and civil rights/employee advocate organizations such as the Coalition of Minority Employees, No Fear Coalition, and the Coalition for Change (C4C) have conducted a decades long campaign to induce various administrations to reign in what many call rogue federal agencies. These agencies have acted outside the law for decades, waiting out 4 administrations in the last 40 years. This week, representatives of tens of thousands of abused federal employees, farmers and ranchers came to Washington, DC to say, “Enough.”
[Correction] As the result of a meeting between civil rights activists, whistleblower organizations and Senator Chuck Grassley, which was boycotted by the mainstream media (MSM), new energy has been injected into the efforts to reign USDA in. Senator Grassley, via the letter below, has fired a warning shot across the bow of USDA. The agency has been sitting on thousands of discrimination claims, and has ignored at least two reports on ways to improve its process for resolving discrimination cases.
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a status report on the agency’s effort to improve its process for resolving discrimination claims made by employees following independent assessments that recommended improvements in 2008 and 2011.
“The discrimination issues and delays in resolving claims are not a new issue for the Department of Agriculture, but it’s time for a clear indication that systemic problems are being resolved. To date, the agency response to questions about progress being made have been somewhat vague and inadequate,” Grassley said.
The Iowa senator made his request for a status report in a letter sent today to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Click here to read Grassley’s letter to Vilsack.
Both a 2008 report of the Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, and a 2011 Jackson Lewis report commissioned by the Department of Agriculture identified problems in the way the agency managed employee claims of discrimination and made recommendations for improvements.
As this is being written, there has been no reaction from USDA. But many of those who attended the meeting between Sen. Grassley and the various whistleblower organizations are hopeful that justice will be done–particularly because of the fire which Senator Grassley just lit under USDA’s feet.