April 18, 2013
The deadline for USDA’s Hispanic and Women’s Farmers and Ranchers Claim Process is quickly approaching. In late March the USDA announced the extension of the original deadline. Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades must now file their claims by May 1, 2013.
The United States Government established a voluntary claims process to make up to $1.33 billion or more available to farmers who alleged discrimination by the USDA based on being female, or based on being Hispanic, in making or servicing farm loans during certain periods between 1981 and 2000.
In total, claimants are eligible for debt relief in the amount $160 million for eligible USDA loans. Tax relief is also available in addition to a moratorium on accelerations, foreclosure, offsets and interest accrual during the claims process. The Claims Process and each Claims Package will be processed and adjudicated by an independent third party. All questions relating to specific Claims Packages will be answered by the Claims Administrator and not USDA. USDA Service Centers will not provide claims packages nor provide legal advice.
The money for the settlements would come from the Justice Department’s Judgment Fund, which is used to pay most legal cases the government loses and would not have to be appropriated by Congress, as it was to settle the black farmer discrimination case known as Pigford II. There are no filing fees or other costs to claimants to participate in the program. Participation is voluntary, and individuals who opt not to participate are not precluded by the program from filing a complaint in court.
USDA is continuing its outreach effort to potential claimants that include a call center for farmers and ranchers, a website, public service announcements, and in-person meetings around the country. Individuals interested in participating in the claims process may register to receive a claims package, or may obtain more information, by visiting Women and Hispanic Claims Program website. Individuals can also register to receive a claims package by calling the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 1-888-508-4429.
Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers