The United States government has established a voluntary admininstrative claims process, the USDA Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Process (HWFRCP), that seeks to resolve allegations of past discrimination involving USDA farm loan programs.  The period in which to file a claim opened on September 24, 2012 and runs through March 25, 2013.  Claims are based on actions that occurred between 1981 and 1996 or mid-October 1998 and mid-October 2000.

Lawyers and law school clinics nationwide are being sought to assist Hispanic and women farmers to complete and submit the official HWFRCP claims forms.  If you are an attorney or associated with a law school clinic and are interested in being involved in the HWFRCP, please send an email inquiry to HWFRCP@flaginc.org or call (651) 223-5400.  In addition, interested attorneys or persons associated with legal clinics may also contact nataglaw@uark.edu or call (479) 575-7640.

Background on the HWFRCP

As part of USDA’s efforts to make civil rights matters a top priority, USDA is committed to resolving past claims of discrimination in its farm loan programs.  In recent years, USDA entered into settlement agreements in certified class action lawsuits filed on behalf of African American and Native American farmers.  Class counsel assisted thousands of farmers to file their individual claims under those settlement agreements. For background information regarding these particular lawsuits, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center website here.

Lawsuits alleging past discrimination in USDA Farm Loan Programs were also filed on behalf of Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers.  However, those cases were not certified as class actions.  Subsequently, the United States government established the USDA HWFRCP to provide at least $1.33 billion to claimants who alleged discrimination by the USDA based on being female or being Hispanic in making or servicing farm loans during certain periods between 1981 and 2000.

The official website for the HWFRCP is www.farmerclaims.gov.  As part of its national research and information mission, the National Agricultural Law Center is also providing information regarding the process, which can be accessed from the Center’s home page, www.nationalaglawcenter.org.