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Keepseagle settlement claims due December 27

Native Americans have until December 27 to file claims in the Keepseagle class action settlement, the Agriculture Department said today.

Keepseagle v. Vilsack was a lawsuit alleging that USDA discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program. The Obama administration settled the suit with the plaintiffs last year and the court recently approved the settlement. The 180-day claims period began June 29.

Up to $760 million will be made available in monetary relief, debt relief, and tax relief to successful claimants, USDA noted in a news release.

There are two tracks for claims: Successful Track A claimants may receive up to $50,000; successful Track B claimants may receive up to $250,000. The standard of proof for Track B claims is a higher standard than what will be applied to Track A claim

“Now that the claims process is open, Native American farmers and ranchers who believe they are entitled to funds under the Keepseagle settlement must file a claim within 180 days in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness,” Janie Hipp, senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the news release.

“Tribal leaders may want to consider advising tribal members of the requirement to obtain and submit a completed claims package if they wish to participate in the Keepseagle claims process,” Hipp said. The Keepseagle class counsel will hold meetings in the coming months throughout Indian Country, she said.

Information on the claims process and the dates of those meetings may be found on the Keepseagle claims website.

Claimants may also seek more information and register for a claims package by calling 888-233-5506.