Past discrimination claims filing period ends March 25

Dec. 27, 2012 @ 08:31 PM

 

Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary, recently announced that Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege past discrimination by the United States Department of Agriculture may file claims between now and March 25. This deadline must be met for claimants to be eligible to receive cash payment or loan forgiveness.

The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can prove discrimination by the department when their applications for loan or loan servicing assistance were denied during certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.

At least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, will be made available to eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers through the claims process. Filing fees will not be assessed.

Dial 1-888-508-4429 to reach a call center representative. Claimants must register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website). The package will be mailed to claimants. Persons interested in learning more or receiving information about the process and claims packages are urged to attend community meetings about the claims process, call the aforementioned number or visit: farmerclaims.gov.

Independent legal services companies will administer the process and adjudicate any claims. Although filing fees and a lawyer are not required to participate, persons seeking legal advice may do so.

Audio and video public service announcements from Vilsack, as well as downloadable print and web banner ads on the claims process are available in English and Spanish at: usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=PSAs_Print_and_WebBanner_Ads.xml.