Settling Claims. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.
As part of continued efforts to close the chapter on allegations that discrimination occurred at USDA in past decades, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General Tony West announced the establishment of a process to resolve the claims of Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who assert that they were discriminated against when seeking USDA farm loans.
VILSACK: Since the first days of the Obama Administration we’ve worked to write a new chapter of civil rights at USDA and we’ve taken a comprehensive and definitive look and a set of actions to move the department into a new era as a model employer and a premier service provider. As part of that we believe that every farmer and rancher should be treated equally and fairly and we are committed to resolving all of the cases involving allegations of past discrimination by individuals including Hispanic, Latino and women farmers.
Now that the settlement for Hispanic and women farmers is outlined, how will the process work?
VILSACK: The USDA and Department of Justice will be providing Hispanic, Latino and women farmers and ranchers who alleged discrimination an option for a streamlined process to resolve their claims simply. Individuals who believe that USDA improperly denied them farm loan benefits between 1981 and 2000 because they were Hispanic, Latino or female, they can find information about the claims process at www.farmerclaims.gov.
Assistant Attorney General Tony West discusses who is eligible.
WEST: You obviously have to be a Hispanic or female farmer. You had to have farmed or attempted to have farmed during that relevant time period of 1981 to 2000. You have to have owned or leased or attempted to own or lease farmland. You have to have applied for a farm loan or a farm loan servicing and met USDA’s regulatory requirements. You have to have had an application that was denied or approved for a lesser amount than what was requested and you have to believe that you were discriminated against for being Hispanic or female and that you suffered some economic damage as a result.
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.
That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.