All Articles Tagged "USDA"

Going Hungry: Many African Americans Struggling to Put Food on the Table

September 10th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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Image: Photodisc

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a report showing that 25.1 percent of black homes were food insecure in 2011. Food insecurity comes about when there isn’t sufficient access to food because of a lack of resources, including money.

Overall, 85.1 percent of the U.S. population was food secure while 14.9 percent of the population have trouble providing adequate levels of food for themselves and their families. So the black population exceeds the level of food insecurity for the general population by about 10 percentage points.

The percentage of food insecure only went up by a small amount (from 14.1 percent in 2011), so the USDA says it’s not “statistically significant.” Nearly six percent of the population had very low food security, meaning they went without meals for a few days at some point over the course of seven months during the year.

“For households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black and Hispanic households, rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average,” the report says. Hispanic households experienced food insecurity at a rate of 26.2 percent.

With a quarter of black houses experiencing problems simply keeping enough food on the table, the problem is critical. According to reporting from the Washington Informer, if not for government food programs the number would be even higher, a very scary thought.

“African-Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted by unemployment and poverty, and there is a strong correlation to food insecurity rates,” Rev. Derrick Boykin told the paper. Another source, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, called it a “moral obligation” for Congress to keep these food programs away from budget cuts.

The Senate has already passed a plan in June that would lower the funding for food stamps. The use of food stamps reached a record level that month; 46.7 million people were using food stamps. Spending on food stamp programs also reached a record $75.7 billion. As far as we’re concerned, this is money well spent.

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Gov't Ready for Black Farmer Payout

June 7th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Reuters) – African-American farmers who faced discrimination at by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in farm loans are being notified they may qualify for a part of a $1.25 billion settlement.  A series of class action lawsuits found that between 1981 and 1996 the USDA systematically discriminated against African-American farmers on the basis of race.

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Mutant Food Coming to a Grocer Near You

February 18th, 2011 - By Dr. Phoenyx Austin
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Remember the nursery rhyme “Old McDonald Had a Farm?” We’d sing how Old McDonald had a farm with pigs that go “oink” and cows that go “moo.” Well now it seems like the nursery rhyme needs some updating. Looks like Old McDonald has added some genetically engineered sugar beets and super-fast-growing salmon to his farm. And he’s even traded in his overalls and weed wacker for a white lab coat and chemistry set.

Today we have genetically modified (GM) foods and genetically modified organisms (GMO). There are tons of GM foods including: flour, soy, milk, canola oil, and aspartame (a sweetener).  And the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture)- government agency that regulates what’s grown on farms- recently approved the use of three new kinds of genetically engineered foods: alfalfa, a type of corn to make ethanol, and sugar beets. They also approved a super-fast-growing salmon- which will be the first (and most likely not the last) genetically modified animal to be sold in the U.S.

Though they’re mass marketed, the use of genetically modified food is a subject of enormous controversy. Many have been very leery of GM foods- mainly because the effects of these foods haven’t been studied long term. And some physicians and scientists argue that GM foods may be contributing to the rise of autism, obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, allergies, reproductive problems, and many other common health problems plaguing Americans. To many people, GMO is just another way of saying “God Move Over.” And their fear of GM foods is based in this line of reasoning: How often do things turn out well when you mess with God’s work?

Back in 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that GM foods pose serious health risks and called on “physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.” They also called for labeling of GM foods in stores. But it looks like the USDA and the FDA aren’t trying to hear it.

Sherrod Declines Offer to Return to USDA

August 24th, 2010 - By madamenoire
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AP News

Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official ousted during a racial firestorm last month, declined Tuesday to return to the agency, though she said it was tempting.

Sherrod and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that she might work with the agency in a consulting capacity in the future to help it improve its outreach to minorities. She told reporters she did not think she could say yes to a job “at this point, with all that has happened.” “I look forward to some type of relationship with the department in the future,” she said. “We do need to work on the issues of discrimination and race in this country.”

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Shirley Sherrod Should Keep It Moving

August 18th, 2010 - By madamenoire
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We assumed Shirley Sherrod would sue the heck out of the Agriculture Department and keep it moving, but it looks like she’s headed to Washington, D.C. to hash out the situation with her former bosses, including Tom Vilsick, the United States Secretary of Agriculture.

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Son and Daughter of Sherrod Speak Out

July 23rd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Atlanta Journal Constitution) — Kenyatta Sherrod, left, and Russia Sherrod, the children of Shirley Sherrod, speak to a reporter after a rally in support of their mother, Shirley Sherrod Wednesday, July 21, 2010 in Albany. Shirley Sherrod has been at the center of controversy after she was fired, then offered her job back, by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture over a video clip purporting to show she was racist.

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Obama Expresses ‘Regret’ to Sherrod

July 22nd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(New York Times) — President Obama on Thursday urged Shirley Sherrod, the black Agriculture Department official whose firing and subsequent offer of rehiring this week renewed a conversation about politics and race, to continue “her hard work on behalf of those in need,” the White House said.

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Why the White House Really Rushed to Judgment on Sherrod

July 22nd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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"Earl Ofari Hutchinson"Capitol Hill reporters relentless peppered White House press secretary Robert Gibbs with questions of why the White House rushed to judgment and demanded the resignation of Shirley Sherrod. A clearly flustered Gibbs could only say and repeat that the White House made its horrible decisions on faulty information. Gibbs promised a review to get to the bottom of why and how it happened. The surface reason the White House dumped Sherrod was made on faulty information, a doctored video, and simple ignorance of the true facts. It wouldn’t have taken much of an investigation to find the truth. That wasn’t done.

Former Civil Rights Commission Chairperson Mary Frances Berry and others claim that Obama is scared stiff of being ripped by Fox News, Limbaugh, Beck and the conservative smear machine. That’s just as spurious. If Obama sneezes, they’d attack him for polluting the Ozone, so there’s no real fear of them. The decision to can Sherrod had everything to do with politics, and the tight cornered racial parameter of his presidency.

This was set the very first day of his presidential campaign. In his candidate declaration speech in Springfield, Illinois in February 2007, he made only the barest mention of race. The focus was on change, change for everyone. He had little choice. The institution of the presidency, and what it takes to get it, demands that racial typecasting be scrapped. Obama would have had no hope of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, let alone the presidency, if there had been any hint that he embraced the race-tinged politics of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. His campaign would have been marginalized and compartmentalized as merely the politics of racial symbolism. The month after he got in the White House he mildly chided Attorney General Eric Holder for calling Americans cowards for not candidly talking about race.

The term for that is racial overcompensation. He must react, hard and swift, to any appearance of anyone connected with his administration that says or does anything that can be construed as racial favoritism. The doctored Sherrod speech was a near textbook fit of the requirement to punish any real, imagined, or put up racial transgression with firing, reprimand, and a quick distancing from the offending party.

Obama got a bitter taste of the misery that race can cause a president when in an unscripted moment he spoke his mind and blasted a Cambridge cop for cuffing and manhandling Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates. The loud squeals that he was a bigot, racist and anti police for siding with Gates bounced off the Oval Office walls. A chagrined Obama back pedaled fast and asked all for forgiveness. There would no White House repeat of the Gates fiasco.

Obama has clung tightly to the centrist blueprint Bill Clinton laid out for a Democratic presidential candidate to win elections, and to govern after he won. The blueprint requires that the Democratic presidential candidate tout a strong defense, the war against terrorism, a vague plan for winding down the Iraq War, tepid proposals to control greenhouse emissions, mild tax reform for the middle class, a cautious plan for affordable health care, pro business solutions to joblessness, and make only the most genteel reproach of Wall Street.

The Clinton blueprint also requires a Democratic president to formulate a moderate agenda on civil rights, poverty, failing inner city public schools, the HIV-AIDS crisis, and the racially skewed criminal justice system in written policy statements. And then say little about them or low key their approach to them in the White House. Obama’s silence, extreme low key approach to these policy issues, occasional reminder that he’s the American president, not black president irked the Congressional Black Caucus and at times other civil rights groups.

Obama well knows that the GOP lost an election, but it still packs a punch. It and its tea party shock troops can disrupt, obstruct, and create chaos for his administration, his political agenda, and him personally. And it does it not only because that’s the warfare that Republicans wage against Democrats anyway, but because the GOP has masterfully reignited its populist base against Obama. The base is rock solid conservative, lower income white male loyalists, with a heavy mix of hard line Christian fundamentalists. Despite the GOP’s and tea party activists wail that racism has nothing to do with the white fury at Obama, the bitter truth is that many white voters do not and will not accept a black president.

If Obama talked candidly about race and tried to spark a dialogue on race as some clamor for him to do it would turn his administration into a referendum on race. This would turn the GOP and tea party counterinsurgency into a red hot fire.

Obama’s rush to judgment on Sherrod had nothing to do with fear and only tangentially with a terrible misread of the information about her purported racial statement. It had everything to do with the price of White House governance. The price is a politically constricted, race neutral presidency.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press). Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter. This post was republished, with his permission, from his column at The Hutchinson Report.

Why The Sherrod Situation is Good For America

July 22nd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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It’s a travesty, surely. The case of Shirley Sherrod was an embarrassment to all who were involved. The USDA, The NAACP, The White House, and the supreme fools in all of this, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart and FOX News. But as Sherrod remarked to Anderson Cooper on Tuesday, the initial reaction was symptomatic of the right wing’s stranglehold on America. We can assume that FOX and friends are rejoicing at the fact that they know they have the Obama administration right where they want them.

Out of all of this hoopla comes an opportunity to really understand and attempt to rectify the fear-mongering state of politics. And Sherrod, though she lost a job, has gained a platform. Not only did the situation shed light on her dignified career, her character and her poise but has also given her a platform to further speak about the issues most important to her . She held her own on CNN these past few days and she’s proven that ” the Right “picked the wrong woman to mess with. Although Americans and America loves to jump on these type of stories and point out the injustice (and we are not undermining the injustice here), these type of things need to happen from time to time to give us an opportunity to improve upon our existing processes and ways. We hope to see Sherrod continue to represent for many years to come, whether or not she decides to take her job back with the USDA.

Shirley Sherrod’s USDA Resignation Sparks Apologies

July 21st, 2010 - By madamenoire
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A heartfelt speech in March for an N.A.A.C.P. event in Douglas, Ga. has led to a whirlwind of drama for Shirley Sherrod, the head of the Department of Agriculture’s rural development office in Georgia. The speech was based on her experience as a child losing her father to KKK and dealing with her feelings of anger that led to a reawakening from helping out a white farmer for her job.  But the comments she made were completely taken out of context and went viral on several conservative sites, making her seem like a racist.

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