Sunday, February 08, 2009

ASCS as an Incubator of Tolerance?

I've blogged about the Pigford case, in which USDA, the former Farmers Home Administration, and its successor, FSA, get attacked for being racist. That rests on the idea that either the local bureaucrats were racist, and/or the programs they administered were skewed against minorities. Regardless of the truth of the attacks, there is another side--as a federally funded bureaucracy, there were rules and pressures from Washington to override local prejudices. And sometimes those worked, as shown in this story about two men, one black, one white, working summer jobs with ASCS in Texas in 1965.

(A bit of background--ASCS used to hire lots of summer help to measure crop acreages, often one way it recruited its permanent employees. Over the years changes in the programs and the use of certifications and spot checks have lessened the need for measurement, and aerial imagery has enabled in-office measurement, saving taxpayer dollars.)

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