FSA to start process to resolve claims of discrimination

Published 8:51 am Friday, June 24, 2011

Freeborn County USDA Farm Service Agency Executive Director Lee Crawford wants to remind farmers and landowners that the Farm Service Agency announced the establishment of a process to resolve the claims of Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who assert that they were discriminated against when seeking the U.S. Department farm loans.

“USDA will announce the opening of the claims period in the summer of 2011 that will last for 180 days” said Crawford.

In connection with the announcement, community based organizations, stakeholders and partners that provide services to Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers are encouraged to inform potential clients about the Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers claims process.

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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 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, according to a press release from USDA. 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, according to the press release. 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.