"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 Vilsack. "Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege past discrimination are encouraged to participate in an improved claims process in which they have the opportunity to recover up to $250,000 in damages."
The updated claims process increases the maximum cash recovery to $250,000, instead of $50,000. The process offers a streamlined alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or woman farmer and rancher who can prove that USDA denied their loan or loan servicing for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.
As announced in February 2011, the voluntary claims process will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers.
Access media files including sound bites, public service announcements and posters in both English and Spanish at this link: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=PSAs_Print_and_WebBanner_Ads.xml
Over the past months, USDA has worked to reach out to potential Hispanic and female claimants through a call center for farmers and ranchers, a website, public service announcements, and in-person meetings around the country. Individuals interested in participating in the claims process may register to receive a claims package, or may obtain more information, by visiting www.farmerclaims.gov. Individuals can also register to receive a claims package by calling the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 1-888-508-4429.There are no filing fees or other costs to claimants to participate in the program. Participation is voluntary, and the program does not preclude individuals who opt not to participate from pursuing their cases in court.