Who is really getting all that farm loan money? And, why you should care.
They sit in their homes, away from their property -- the farms and fields which supported their families for generations. They are angry, but they are also frightened. They are frightened of retaliation by the very same bureaucrats who allegedly illegally sold their farms, or who hold the threat of foreclosure and auction over their heads, and over the heads of their families.
It doesn’t matter what color they are. Some are black, others are white, or Native American, or Hispanic. Their common experience is that they made the mistake of accepting Congress at its word. They made the mistake of believing that the law was on their side. They made the mistake of believing that a statutory commitment by Congress to the family farmer still had teeth.
They made the mistake of believing that when the law says your property can’t be auctioned while you are under an open bankruptcy, that farm loan bureaucrats can’t send federal marshals out to throw you off your property. They made the mistake of believing that when they had secured their farm loans, that when all of the papers were signed and the funds were dispersed into their bank accounts, that they could spend the funds to run their farms, buy equipment and seed and livestock, just like any other loan.
They were wrong.
They made the mistake of believing that their private business and loan information was secure, that federal privacy laws meant something and that Truth in Lending Laws were the law of the land. They made the mistake of believing that the federal farm loan agents who took their loan applications had no hidden agendas to personally enrich themselves at the expense of America’s family farmers. They made the mistake of thinking that those who had access to their financial data, their social security numbers, date of birth, and other vital data were honest government employees.
In many cases, they were wrong.
Hundreds of farmers across the nation claim that, they have been abused by federal farm loan employees, to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. They say their financial data has been used to purchase equipment in their names, equipment that they never ordered and never used, purchases for which their farm loan accounts were charged, and over which their land was auctioned and sold. Their stories are similar to other stories, which have been investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, investigations which have sent some federal employees to jail.
Black, white, red or brown, many claim the same thing -- that their local federal farm loan agency’s employees often conduct personal vendettas, based on racism, sexism, ethnicity, or even family feuds. They also say that their very own farm loan officers are stealing both them and the nation blind.
And, they are outraged. Outraged and scared.
They have been warned not to give their names. An insider told them to be careful, that the agency they were dealing with was more rapacious than any buccaneer in a story book. They were told by others that their phones would be tapped, their mail delayed and the infamous MIBs (men in black) would probably be driving by their homes with increasing regularity.
They made the mistake that honest people often make. They thought that others were as honest as they were. They thought their overly-paranoid friends were exaggerating.
Again, they were wrong.
That mistake has cost many of them their livelihood, their peace of mind, and sometimes, even their very freedom.
All across the nation, American farmers have been trying to get their day in court. They want to show a jury of their peers that they are not deadbeats, that they do pay their bills, that the federal government sold their land, knowing the debt they claimed the farmers owed, was either non-existent, having been paid off, or was nowhere near what the feds claimed it was. They want to stand before a judge and jury and tell their story. This, they say, is their right, their right as American citizens.
Despite all that has happened, many believe if only they can get their day in court, if only they can exercise their right to see the ‘evidence’ against them — the cancelled checks, signed promissory notes and other evidence of application/disbursement/use, that's all that is necessary. They know what they signed, what they applied for and what they received, and they want the world to know their story.