On September 24, 2012 USDA announced the opening of the claims filing period for Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers who claim past discrimination involving the USDA farm loan program.  The claims period will run through March 25, 2013.  A USDA press release regarding the process is available here.

The claims process offers a voluntary, non-judicial process for Hispanic and female farmers and ranchers who can demonstrate that USDA denied their applications for farm loans for farm loan servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.

The claims process makes at $1.33 billion available for cash awards and tax relief payments, as well as up to $160 million in farm debt relief to eligible claimants.

The official website for the claims process is www.farmerclaims.gov.  For questions about claims process administration, including a request for the official claims form, interested persons can call 1-888-508-4429.

If you are an attorney interested in assisting claimants with completion of the official claims form and have questions about the process, you can contact the National Agricultural Law Center at nataglaw@uark.edu or Farmers Legal Action group at HWFRCP@flaginc.org.  Note, however, that it is not necessary that a claimant be assisted by an attorney in order to request or complete the official claims form.