WASHINGTON — The USDA has announced the extension of the voluntary claims process for Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades.
All claims must now be filed by May 1.
“Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices in the past from the USDA have additional time to file a claim in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA urges potential claimants to contact the claims administrator for information and to file their claim packages on or before May 1, 2013.”
The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer who can prove that USDA denied his or her application for loan or loan servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.
As announced in February 2011, the voluntary claims process will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers. There are no filing fees to participate.
Call center representatives can be reached at 888-508-4429. Claimants may register for a claims package by calling or visiting www.farmerclaims.gov, or they may download the forms from the website.
Independent companies will administer the process and adjudicate the claims. Although there are no filing fees to participate and a lawyer is not required to participate in the claims process, persons seeking legal advice may contact a lawyer or other legal services provider.