The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) has issued an official statement praising the U.S. Department of Agriculture and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
A top official in the Obama administration, Vilsack, 61, was governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. Vilsack was recognized by the HNBA for his recent announcement that Hispanic farmers and ranchers who alleged discrimination by the USDA in the past decades can file claims until March 25, 2013.
"The announcement that the USDA is starting an administrative claims process as an alternative to litigation for Hispanic or female farmers and ranchers is a welcome path to justice for individuals who alleged discrimination between 1981-2000 in connection with USDA farm loan programs," said Peter M. Reyes, Jr., National President of the HNBA. Mr. Reyes continued, "The new claims process, which is entirely voluntary, is a testament to Secretary Vilsack's vision and leadership and an important step to correct the wrongs of the past and strengthen the USDA for the future." The HNBA applauds the USDA and Secretary Vilsack for living up to President Lincoln's vision for the USDA as the "People's Department."
Vilsack, a Democrat, came to naional attention in 2010 when the recently deceased blogger Andrew Breitbart posted on his website a video showing U.S. Department of Agriculture employee Shirely Sherrod making insensitive remarks to an audience at an NAACP event. After a very public firing of Sherrod, Vilsack later appologized and then offered to rehire her for an internal advocacy position within the Obama administration, a position which Sherrod declined.
The Hispanic National Bar Association is an incorporated, nonprofit, membership organization that represents the interests of the more than 100,000 Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, and law students in the United States and its Territories.
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