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Public Statements

Claims Resolution Act of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my strong support for H.R. 4783.

I want to thank the congressional leadership, Mr. Rahall and the White House for their commitment to ensure justice for those individuals and communities we have wronged in the past. The treatment of minority farmers by the USDA remains a dark stain on our Nation's history.

When I first came to Congress, I worked extensively on the Agriculture Committee with our former colleague Eva Clayton to bring justice to African American, Hispanic, Native American, and female farmers. We hosted several meetings; wrote letters; and chaired numerous subcommittee hearings on this very issue to address past discrimination.

Today, I am pleased to say that we are taking an important step forward in righting those past wrongs of injustice by this country. H.R. 4783 provides the additional funding required to settle the Pigford lawsuit brought by the African American farmers. It also includes funds to settle the Cobell case and to finally provide justice to Native American communities whose trust accounts were mishandled by the government.

Thousands of people have been affected who still bear the wounds of past discrimination. They have waited too long. This legislation also includes important measures to settle the water rights claims to many tribes, including the White Mountain Apache, the Crow Montana, the Navajo Nation, the Taos Pueblo, and other southwestern Pueblo tribes.

We still have a long road ahead before we bring justice to all groups discriminated against by the USDA, including Hispanic farmers and female farmers, but we are moving in the right direction.


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