Farm

Women and Hispanic U.S. farmers can snag a chunk of a $1.33 billion settlement based on claims that the groups were discriminated against by the USDA; in addition, they’re now also eligible for funds from $160 million pot set aside to assist with debt relief, according to the agency.

Calling it part of “a new era of civil rights,” the announcement comes from the USDA in response to loan service rejections that occurred between the years 1981 and 2000 that may have been affected by gender or race, says the agency in a statement. Secretary Vilsack said, “Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices from the USDA must file a claim in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness. The opening of this claims process is part of the USDA’s ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs of the past and ensure fair treatment to all current and future customers.”

Farmers that meet the qualification can file their discrimination claims by March 25th, 2013. The USDA will be conducting its own outreach in attempts to connect with farmers eligible to participate in the claims process.

This marks the third incident in four years for the USDA based on discrimination claims. Previous settlements include the $760 million Keepseagle settlement with Native American farmers who claimed prejudices on farm loans between 1981 and 1999; and the $1.25 billion Pigford II settlement with black farmers also discriminated against on loan applications between 1981 and 1996.

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Image: Earl-Wilkerson