WelcomeMy research falls within the
feminist geography and critical nature-society studies. I have studied gender and land access in Mali,
municipal climate politics in the US and, most recently, the relationship between race and local food activism read more
NY Times Letter to the Editor
A version of this letter appeared in print in The New York Times on May
4, 2013, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Bias
and a Settlement With Black Farmers.
To the Editor:
“Federal Spigot Flows as Farmers Claim Bias” underplays the history of
racial dispossession, uses cherry-picked examples, and creates needless
antipathy to the lawsuit and the settlement with black farmers.
Focusing on fraud and invoking familiar, racially freighted stereotypes
of undeserving opportunists serve to throw into question all payouts
rather than explaining why they were ordered in the first place.
The Agriculture Department acknowledges racial and gender
discrimination against farmers. The loss of farms we have witnessed
over the past 90 years has disproportionately affected African-American
farmers. Had the Agriculture Department provided loans and other
assistance to everyone equitably, the landscape of the United States
would look quite different.
We do not deny the accuracy of the claim that some fraud has occurred.
In any sign-up program with tens of thousands of participants and
billions of dollars at stake, a few people will try to cheat the
system. Those who do should be punished.
The article is not really about those few proven cases, however. It is
instead an effort to depict the settlement, without providing any real
evidence, as a “runaway train” of fraud.
The settlements, work on them by organizations like the Federation of
Southern Cooperatives, and Secretary Tom Vilsack’s support of them,
should be lauded, particularly since challenges faced by minority and
women farmers persist.
Kirsten Valentine Cadieux, Ph.D., Departments of Sociology and Geography, University of Minnesota
David A. Chang, Ph.D., Department of History, University of Minnesota
Tracey Deutsch, Ph.D., Department of History, University of Minnesota
Jess Gilbert, Ph.D., Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Thomas W. Mitchell, LL.M., University of Wisconsin Law School
Rachel Schurman, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota
Marilyn Sinkewicz, Ph.D., School of Social Work, University of Michigan
Rachel Slocum, Ph.D., Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Monica M. White, Ph.D., Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental
Studies and Department of Community and Environmental Sociology,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Spencer D. Wood, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, Kansas State University
Minneapolis, April 30, 2013
Geographies of race and food ~ fields, bodies, markets
forthcoming from Ashgate
Table of Contents
1725 State St.
La Crosse, WI 54601