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USDA announces process for discrimination claims

The Agriculture Department has put in place a process for Hispanic and female farmers who allege USDA discrimination to file claims, the department said today in a news release.

The claims can be filed until March 25, 2013, the news release said.

The claims process is an attempt to resolve the legal cases brought against USDA by Hispanic and female farmers for discrimination in loan or loan servicing assistance between 1981 and 2000. Those cases did not achieve class-action status and are still pending in the courts.

The voluntary claims process will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and female farmers and ranchers.

There are no filing fees to participate in the program.

Call center representatives can be reached at 1-888-508-4429. Claimants must register for a claims package by calling the number or visiting the website, and the claims package will be mailed to registrants.