This week on Eating Matters, host Kim Kessler and guest co-host Talia Ralph are on the line with Anurag Varma, attorney at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP who has been an instrumental part of what is considered the biggest discrimination case in agricultural history, Pigford v. Glickman. In the 1999 case Pigford v. Glickman, African-American farmers claimed the USDA had systematically discriminated against them on the basis of race, wrongfully denying them of farm loans and assistance. A successful case relating to discrimination against Native American farmers also followed, Keepseagle v. Vilsack. Although the Pigford case was settled, many farmers were unable to file claims before the deadline and numerous lawsuits were filed. Over a decade later in 2010, Congress approved $1.25 billion to pay claims and other expenses as part of the Settlement of Pigford II. Talking to Anurag about how the case came about and his experiences working for a positive outcome, Kim and Talia also get his take on the similar Keepseagle v. Vilsack case. Tune in for a great show! This program was brought to you by Edwards VA Ham.
”Forty acres and a mule. The government broke that promise to African American farmers. Over one hundred years later, the USDA broke its promise to Mr. James Beverly. It promised him a loan to build farrowing houses so that he could breed hogs. Because he was African American, he never received that loan. He lost his farm because of the loan that never was. Nothing can completely undo the discrimination of the past or restore lost land or lost opportunities to Mr. Beverly or to all of the other African American farmers whose representatives came before this Court. Historical discrimination cannot be undone.”
Opinion in Pigford v. Glickman, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“It’s been the greatest honor in my life to work on both of these cases.” [34:00]
—Anurag Varma on Eating Matters