United States Department
of Agriculture Rural Development
Contact: Alec Lloyd
EAST LANSING, June 20, 2011 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner today urged Hispanic or women farmers and ranchers who may have experienced discrimination from USDA to contact the department.
"The Obama Administration is committed to resolving all claims of past discrimination at USDA, said Turner. Our goal is to ensure that any Hispanic or women farmer or rancher who alleges discrimination is aware of this option to come forward, to have his or her claims heard and to participate in a process to receive compensation.
The program USDA announced earlier this year with the Department of Justice 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. This 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. Hispanic or women 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 decide not to participate may choose to file a complaint in court. However, USDA cannot provide legal advice to potential claimants, and persons seeking legal advice may contact a lawyer or other legal services provider.
Today's announcement is part of a series of outreach meetings that are being held across the country to let Hispanic and women farmers or ranchers know about this process. Potential claimants can register to receive a claims package by calling the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 1-888-508-4429 or visiting www.farmerclaims.gov.
Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA is addressing civil rights complaints that go back decades and through these outreach meetings, we are taking steps towards achieving that goal. USDA is committed to resolving allegations of past discrimination and ushering in "a new era of civil rights" for the Department. In February 2010, the Secretary announced the Pigford II settlement with African American farmers, and in October 2010, he announced the Keepseagle settlement with Native American farmers.
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 are available at: http://www.usda.gov/PSAs_Print_and_WebBanner_Ads.xml.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agencys programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
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