$2.2 Billion Compensation Fund for Farmers & Ranchers

Farm loan discrimination has long been a pressing issue faced by farmers of color in the United States. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has acknowledged this problem and has taken steps to provide compensation for those who have experienced discrimination in its lending programs. If you or someone you love was denied farm loans and other subsidies or faced unnecessary issues in securing a loan as a result of race, gender, or sexual discrimination, you may qualify for legal compensation from the USDA. Call us today to learn more about the process of seeking farm loan discrimination compensation and pursuing a claim against the USDA.

Understanding Farm Loan Discrimination

Farm loan discrimination refers to the unjust treatment and unfair lending practices experienced by farmers based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, marital status, and retaliation for prior civil rights activity. Discrimination can manifest in various ways, including loan denials, acceptance of a lesser loan amount than requested, deferred or delayed loans, and other difficulties in securing a farm loan.

Historically, farmers of color, particularly Black and Native American farmers, have faced systemic discrimination in USDA farm loan programs. The discrimination has resulted in an uneven distribution of farm loans and assistance, leading to land loss and foreclosure for many farmers. Lawsuits, such as the Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit, have shed light on the extent of the discrimination and the need for compensation.

The Inflation Reduction Act and Discrimination Financial Assistance

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law by President Biden in August 2022, includes a provision for what is known as "Discrimination Financial Assistance."

This provision aims to provide relief and compensation to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who have experienced discrimination in USDA lending programs before January 1, 2021. Under this program, eligible farmers can receive financial assistance of up to $500,000, depending on the specific consequences resulting from the discrimination. The USDA has allocated a total of $2.2 billion for these claims, with the goal of addressing the historical injustices in farm loan lending programs and supporting farmers who have been disproportionately affected by discriminatory practices.

Eligibility for Farm Loan Discrimination Compensation

To be eligible for farm loan discrimination compensation, farmers must meet certain criteria:

  • Discrimination before January 1, 2021: The discrimination must have occurred before this date in USDA farm loan programs.
  • Assigned or assumed USDA farm loan debt: Farmers who have assigned or assumed USDA farm loan debt that was subject to discrimination before January 1, 2021, are eligible for compensation.
  • Discrimination based on protected characteristics: The discrimination must be based on protected characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual identity, age, religion, disability, marital status, or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Farmers who have previously received payments as part of discrimination lawsuits against the USDA, including class-action lawsuits, are also eligible to apply for compensation under the IRA.

The Application Process for Farm Loan Discrimination Compensation

The USDA has opened the application process for farm loan discrimination relief and applications will be accepted until October 31, 2023. Farmers can submit their applications online, by mail, or at certain local USDA offices. The applications will be reviewed in November and December, and payments will be distributed to eligible farmers soon after.

Challenges in Recovering Compensation for Affected Farmers

While the farm loan discrimination compensation program is a step forward, there are challenges and hurdles that farmers may face. The demand for compensation may exceed the allocated funds, potentially resulting in farmers receiving less than the maximum payout of $500,000. The USDA is aware of this possibility and is considering measures to address the tax implications of the payments.

Additionally, the application process itself may pose challenges. Farmers may need to provide extensive documentation and evidence to support their discrimination claims. Language barriers and limited access to bilingual federal employees, documents, and training materials can further complicate the process, particularly for farmers from non-English-speaking communities.

Pursuing Legal Claims with the Help of Experienced Attorneys

Navigating the farm loan discrimination compensation process can be complex and overwhelming. Farmers are advised to seek legal representation to ensure their rights are protected and to maximize their chances of a successful claim. Experienced attorneys specializing in civil rights and farm loan discrimination can provide guidance, assist with the application process, and advocate for affected farmers’ rights. They can also help farmers gather the necessary evidence to support their claims, interpret complex legal requirements, and navigate any challenges that may arise during the compensation process. 

Farmers who have experienced farm loan discrimination should not delay in pursuing their claims. The allocated funds for compensation may be limited, and waiting too long to apply could result in the funds running out before the deadline. Seeking legal advice promptly can help farmers determine their eligibility, gather the required documentation, and take appropriate action within the given timeframe.

Find Out How We Can Help

Farm loan discrimination compensation is an important step towards addressing the historical injustices faced by farmers of color in USDA lending programs. The Inflation Reduction Act provides an opportunity for eligible farmers to seek financial assistance and redress for the discrimination they have experienced. By understanding the eligibility requirements, navigating the application process, and seeking legal representation, farmers can pursue their claims and work towards a more equitable agricultural system. If you believe you have been a victim of farm loan discrimination and want to pursue a claim against the USDA, contact our experienced attorneys today. We are committed to fighting for justice and ensuring that farmers receive the compensation they deserve.

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Were you or a loved one denied a USDA Loan? Did you accept a loan for a lesser amount than requested? Did you accepted a loan that had a significant delay in funding? Or did you have other difficulties securing a farm, ranch or forestry loan through the USDA?

You may qualify for up to $500,000 in compensation due to a history of loan discrimination at the USDA.

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