Obama’s Agriculture Dept. Has Hired Consulting Firm to Advise It on ‘Diversity

By Susan Jones | November 29, 2010 | 10:10 AM EST

(CNSNews.com) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has “taken a number of actions to make his department more sensitive to civil rights issues,” The Hill newspaper reported on Monday.

Among other things, the department has hired a consulting firm to advise it on “diversity” matters, the newspaper reported.

And this week, Vilsack is pressing the House of Representatives to approve a Senate bill settling discrimination claims by black farmers.

As CNSNews.com reported earlier, President Obama is requesting $1.15 billion from Congress – on top of the $100 million he requested as a senator -- to settle discrimination claims by 66,000 African Americans who “farmed or attempted to farm” and were allegedly discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture between Jan. 1, 1981 and Dec. 31, 1996.

During that 16-year period, however, the number of African-American farm operators in the United States peaked at 33,000 in 1982, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 1992, says the Census Bureau, the number of African American farmers had fallen as low as 19,000.

As CNSNews.com also reported, the White House won’t say if the Obama administration has disciplined or will discipline USDA officials for the alleged discrimination.