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Letters in Response to a Report on Equal Opportunity in Federal Farm Programs.

February 28, 1965

[Released February 28, 1965. Dated February 27, 1965 ]

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I appreciate the thoughtful and detailed study which the Commission on Civil Rights has given to racial discrimination in Federal programs of importance to the rural population of our nation. The difficulties faced by many of our rural and farm families are of great concern to the Administration and we recognize that these problems are even more burdensome for those who suffer from the wasteful and divisive practices of racial discrimination. It must be our goal to eradicate these twin evils.

The Commission's recommendations for changes in the Department of Agriculture programs will, I know, have the immediate attention of the Department, and I have asked the Secretary to report to me on this matter within thirty days. Enclosed is a copy of my letter to the Secretary.

I hope you will convey to the other members of the Commission my appreciation for this timely and constructive report. As we proceed in implementing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I am confident the assistance and wise counsel of the Commission will continue to make a strong and positive contribution to eliminating discrimination in this country.



[Honorable John A. Hannah, Chairman, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Washington, D.C.]

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Acting under its statutory authority, the Commission on Civil Rights, in seeking to determine whether all our citizens are being afforded equal protection of the laws, has appraised several important programs of the Department of Agriculture. I understand that you and the other officials of the Department furnished valuable assistance to the Commission in its study and the Department cooperated fully. I am confident that the close-working relationship developed between these two agencies will prove to be most helpful.

The Commission's report points out that 98% of all Negro farm operators in the United States are located in southern states and thus the Commission centered its attention in those areas. Based on its study and review of the material available to it, the Commission concluded that Negro families have not participated equally in those programs designed to assist our rural population. These programs so essential to our continued welfare and economic growth must reach all in our rural areas if they are to be effective in lifting those areas to full economic self-sufficiency.

Under your strong leadership, the Department has developed new and improved methods of promoting the economic growth and well-being of our rural areas. The new emphasis which the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives to equal treatment for all persons provides the basis for assuring that the benefits of these efforts will be available to all. Equality of opportunity is essential if we are to achieve the rural renaissance which you so vigorously champion.

In sending this report to you, I am confident it will have your personal attention for I am well aware of your personal commitment to the elimination of racial discrimination. The Commission's recommendations deserve prompt attention and are phrased in an affirmative spirit which I know characterizes your own approach. I hope I may receive within thirty days a report on the recommendations of the Commission and the actions taken or contemplated by the Department.



[Honorable Orville L. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. ]

Note: The report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, transmitted to the President on February 27, 1965, is entitled "Equal Opportunity in Farm Programs: An Appraisal of Services Rendered by Agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture" (Government Printing Office, 136 pp.).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letters in Response to a Report on Equal Opportunity in Federal Farm Programs. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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