L ANCASTER, Pa. — Hispanic and women farmers have until March 25 to file a claim under a program meant to compensate those alleging past USDA discrimination.
Six meetings were held in Pennsylvania in October to explain the claims process under the USDA Hispanic & Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims program.
Several were held earlier in the month in Greensburg, Washington, Meadville and Erie, with the latest meetings Oct. 25 in Lancaster and Reading.
The program was announced in 2011 by USDA and the Department of Justice as an alternative to a lawsuit against the department accusing it of past discrimination.
It is the third such program USDA has rolled out in recent years in response to claims of discrimination by the department against minority groups.
Two other programs, including one focused on blacks and another focused on Native Americans, have also been announced.
The claims process covers the years between Jan. 1, 1981, and Dec. 31, 1996, for loans or other programs offered through the former Farmers Home Administration or FmHA, which provided financial assistance and guaranteed loans to people wanting to buy or improve farms.
Hispanics alleging discrimination between Oct. 13, 1998, and Oct. 13, 2000, and women claiming discrimination between Oct. 19, 1998, and Oct. 19, 2000, are also eligible to apply.
Up to $50,000 in compensation is available, along with additional debt and tax relief, depending on the loans.
For more information, visit www.farmersclaims.gov or call 888-508-4429.