In February, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Tony West announced a process created to resolve the claims of Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who assert they faced discrimination when seeking USDA farm loans during certain periods between years 1981 and 2000.
The optional 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 and ranchers.
"The claims process has not began and producers can still request a claims package," said Vilsack. "The claims process will allow Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege past discrimination the opportunity to receive compensation, while closing a sad chapter in USDA history to move forward and focus on the future."
Producers interested in pursuing the settlement option can request a claims package and view more information by visiting www.farmerclaims.gov or by calling the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 1-888-508-4429. Participation is voluntary, and individuals who opt not to participate are not precluded by the program from filing a complaint in court.
USDA cannot provide legal advice to potential claimants. Persons seeking legal advice may contact a lawyer or other legal services provider.
Under Secretary Vilsack's leadership, USDA is addressing civil rights complaints that go back decades, and the Hispanic and Women Farmer and Rancher Claims Process is another major step towards achieving that goal.