Montana USDA: Claims Filing Deadline is March 25, 2013 for Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers who claim past discrimination at USDA
- Published on Thursday, 13 December 2012 18:03
- Written by USDA
(Bozeman, Mont., - Dec. 12, 2012) - The USDA State Food & Agriculture Council (SFAC) in Montana announced today that Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades have until the March 25, 2013 deadline to file claims. The claims process, which was announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, began on September 24, 2012.
"Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices from the USDA must file a claim by March 25, 2013 in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness," said USDA Rural Development State Director Matthew Jones, who serves as the SFAC chair this year. "This claims process is part of USDA's ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs of the past and ensure fair treatment to all current and future customers."
The SFAC is comprised of state-level agency heads of the three USDA lead agencies - RD State Director Matthew Jones, Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Bruce Nelson and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Joyce Swartzendruber - with membership from other USDA agencies in Montana.
The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can prove that USDA denied their applications for loan or loan servicing assistance 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. There are no filing fees to participate in the program.
The Department will continue reaching out to potential Hispanic and female claimants around the country to get the word out to individuals who may be eligible for this program so they have the opportunity to participate.
Call center representatives can be reached at 1-888-508-4429. Claimants must register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website) and the claims package will be mailed to claimants. All those interested in learning more or receiving information about the claims process and claims packages are encouraged to attend meetings in your communities about the claims process and contact the website or claims telephone number.
Claims Contact Information:
- Website: www.farmerclaims.gov
- Phone: 1-888-508-4429
- Claims Period: September 24, 2012 - March 25, 2013
Independent legal services companies will administer the claims process and adjudicate the claims. Although there are no filing fees to participate and a lawyer is not required to participate in the claims process, persons seeking legal advice may contact a lawyer or other legal services provider. USDA cannot provide legal advice.
Audio and video public service announcements in English and Spanish from Secretary Vilsack and downloadable print and web banner ads on the Hispanic and women farmer claims process are available at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=PSAs_Print_and_WebBanner_Ads.xml.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).