Hoyer Supports ‘Disciplinary Action’ against USDA Employees Who ‘Consciously’ Discriminated Against Black Farmers in Pigford II Case

By Matt Cover | December 1, 2010 | 3:56 PM EST

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer of Md., speaks to supporters at an election night party in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(CNSNews.com) – While House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) voted last Tuesday for the $1.16 billion settlement for black farmers who were discriminated against by the Agriculture Department from 1981 to 1996, when asked whether “disciplinary action” should be taken against any USDA employees, Hoyer said he didn’t know enough about the case to endorse any specific action.  

“Frankly, I haven’t really thought about that aspect of it. I’d want to know more information in terms of who, what, how, and when,” Hoyer said.

“Clearly, my view would be if somebody consciously participated in discriminatory behavior, yes there ought to be disciplinary action,” Hoyer said Wednesday at his Capitol Hill press briefing.

At issue is a massive class-action lawsuit – known as Pigford II – that found that USDA systematically discriminated against black farmers from 1981 to 1996. The settlement has been criticized because there have been more discrimination claims filed than there were black farmers.

Republicans have also criticized the USDA for not taking any disciplinary action against employees who participated in the discrimination.

“It’s pretty amazing to me that you can have 94,000 people likely discriminated against and you can’t find one single individual responsible for $2.3 billion worth of discrimination,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told CNSNews.com Monday.

“That is a massive amount of discrimination and you can’t find one single perpetrator. Victims are replete and perpetrators are non-existent?”