INDIANAPOLIS -- As part of continued efforts to close the chapter on allegations that discrimination occurred at USDA in past decades, a claims process has been established to resolve the claims of Hispanic and women farmers who assert they were discriminated against when seeking USDA farm loans for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.
Persons might be eligible if they sought a farm loan or loan servicing from USDA during that period; and the loan was denied, provided late, approved for a lesser amount than requested approved with restrictive conditions, or USDA failed to provide an appropriate loan service; and persons believe these actions occurred because they are female or Hispanic.
"We want all producers who may be eligible to be aware of this claims process for women and Hispanic farmers, as well as the recent settlements with native American and African American farmers, so they can come forward and participate in these processes," Executive Director for the Indiana Farm Service Agency Julia A. Wickard said.
"We believe that every farmer should be treated equally and fairly."
Persons wanting to register their name to receive a claims package in the women and Hispanic farmers claims process may call the Farmer Call Center at 1-888-508-4429 or access the website at www.farmerclaims.gov.
In 2011, a claims administrator will begin mailing claims packages to those who have requested one through the Call Center or website.
The claims package will have detailed information about the eligibility and claims process.
In order to participate, persons must submit a claim to the claims administrator by the end of the claims period.
The claims process offers a streamlined alternative to litigation and provides at least $1.33 billion in compensation, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and women farmers.
The claims process provides up to $50,000 for each woman or Hispanic farmer who can show that USDA denied them a loan or loan servicing for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.
Hispanic or women farmers who provide additional proof and meet other requirements can receive $50,000.
Successful claimants may also be eligible for funds to pay the taxes on their awards and for forgiveness of certain existing USDA loans.
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.
Persons who are currently represented by counsel regarding discrimination by USDA should contact counsel regarding the claims process.