The USDA recently took steps to resolve a long history of alleged discrimination against women and hispanic farmers. Two court cases– Garcia vs. Vilsack and Love vs. Vilsack allege that USDA improperly denied women and Hispanic farmers farm loan benefits. Now, in an effort to provide relief, the USDA has created a process to resolve the claims of farmers who allege they were unjustifiably denied benefits because of their ethnic background or gender.
“The Obama Administration has made it a priority to resolve all claims of past discrimination at USDA, and we are committed to closing this sad chapter in USDA’s history,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege past discrimination can now come forward to participate in a claims process in which they have the opportunity to receive compensation.”
The program provides up to $50,000 for each Hispanic or woman 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 female farmers who provide additional proof and meet other requirements can receive a $50,000 reward. Successful claimants are also 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.
You may be eligible if:
1. You sought a farm loan or farm-loan servicing from USDA during that period; and
2. 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
3. You believe these actions occurred because you are Hispanic or female.
If you want to register your name to receive a claims package, you can call the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 1-888-508-4429 or access the following website: http://www.farmerclaims.gov