State Rep. Bullard hosts agricultural roundtable

By Mario J. Bailey….

U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Assistant Secretary Fred Pfaeffle (right) joins State Rep. Dwight Bullard for a joint roundtable discussion.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Assistant Secretary Fred Pfaeffle and State Rep. Dwight Bullard recently conducted a joint roundtable discussion with members from the agricultural communities of South Florida to consider various issues affecting minorities in the local industry.

Secretary Pfaeffle’s address highlighted an allocation of approximately $1.3 billion by the federal government to compensate Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who had been denied access to farm loans between 1981 and 2000. The Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation Settlement and claim procedures also were addressed.

Between $50,000 and $250,000 is available to black farmers who experienced discrimination in acquiring farm loans during those years. Claims for Hispanic and women farmers and Black farmers can be settled through a non-adversarial process.

The roundtable also addressed the potential effects of E-Verify and other immigration legislation considered in the Florida Legislature. Rep. Bullard believes these proposals are detrimental to small farmers and will result in a decline in the number of laborers available for harvesting crops.

Members of the agricultural community expressed concern about cuts to WIC and SNAP-federal programs designed to reduce hunger and poor nutrition among low-income citizens, and called for efforts to increase urban agricultural innovation.

“I want to thank Deputy Pfaeffle for listening to the South Dade community,” Rep. Bullard said. “I think the dialogue and information shared was positive and will results in action from the federal and state governments.

“As a member of the Florida House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, I look forward to addressing the concerns that were raised during the roundtable when the 2012 legislative session convenes in January,” he added.

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