USDA compensating women and Hispanic farmers and ranchers for past discrimination

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COLUMBUS — If you are a female farmer or rancher or a Hispanic farmer or rancher and you believe the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) improperly denied farm loan benefits to you for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000 because of your gender or race, you may be eligible to apply for compensation.

Eligibility

You may be eligible if:

you sought a farm loan or farm-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

you believe these actions occurred because you are female or Hispanic.

“We want all producers who may be eligible to be aware of this claims process for female and Hispanic farmers and ranchers, so they can come forward and participate in these processes,” said Steve Maurer, state director of Ohio’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

If you want to register your name to receive a claims package in the female and Hispanic farmers claims process, you can call the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 888-508-4429 or access the website at www.farmerclaims.gov.

In 2011, a class 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, you must submit a claim to the claims administrator by the end of the claims period.

Claims

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 and ranchers. 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.

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. If you are currently represented by counsel regarding allegations of discrimination against USDA or in a lawsuit claiming discrimination by USDA, you should contact your counsel regarding your claims process.

USDA cannot provide legal advice to you. You are not required to hire an attorney to file a claim, but you may contact a lawyer or other legal services provider in your community for additional guidance.

For more information, contact the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 888-508-4429 or access the following Website at www.farmerclaims.gov.

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