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Women, Hispanics still have time to file

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Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades have just a bit more than a month to file claims.

The filing period closes March 25.

“Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices in the past from the USDA have 45 days left to file a claim in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA urges potential claimants to contact the Claims Administrator for information and mail their claim packages on or before March 25, 2013.”

The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can prove the USDA denied an application for loan or loan-servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981-2000.

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 women farmers and ranchers.

There are no filing fees to participate in the program.

Call center representatives can be reached toll free at 1-888-508-4429.

Claimants may register for a claims package by either calling or visiting www.farmerclaims.gov to download the forms.

Independent legal services companies will administer the claims process and adjudicate the claims.

Although there are no filing fees to participate and a lawyer is not required to participate in the claims process, those seeking legal advice may contact a lawyer or other legal services provider.