Continued from page 1

“I know that I disappointed the president, I disappointed this administration, I disappointed the country, I disappointed Shirley,” he said. “I have to live with that.”

Mr. Vilsack said he talked to Mrs. Sherrod for 90 minutes Tuesday morning. The two discussed a settlement still pending in Congress for black farmers who have been victims of racism in the past by USDA officials, as well as other civil rights issues facing the department.

The USDA has a long history of complaints over its dealings with black farmers who sought out loans and other aid, and the government this year agree on a second round of damages stemming from a class-action lawsuit originally settled in 1999.