Were you a victim of loan discrimination by a USDA program? If you were, what can you do about it? You can find out by tuning in for a free 75-minute Adobe Connect webinar on Tuesday, January 8 from 10:00 to 11:15 a.m. central time, featuring two experts on the USDA's women and Hispanic discrimination settlement process.
"Please invite clients and colleagues to participate, too," says Leigh Adcock, executive director of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, based at Ames, Iowa. "No preregistration is necessary. See the bottom of this page for a link to instructions on logging in, and then click the image at right to enter the webinar room on January 8. Click "Enter as a guest." You may need to update or download the software, so please allow a few minutes of extra time."
How did this legal settlement and claims process begin? Here's the background and explanation of this discrimination case
In response to class-action lawsuits filed against the USDA in the year 2000 on behalf of women and Hispanic farmers, the United States government has now established a claims process to make available $1.33 billion or more in cash and debt relief to those who can prove they were victims of discrimination as federal farm loan applicants because of belonging to one or both of these classes of farmers.
Those who allege discrimination by the USDA based on being female or Hispanic in making or servicing farm loans during certain periods between 1981 and 2000, and who qualify and submit a timely claim, could receive a cash award of up to $50,000, says Adcock. USDA will also provide a total of up to $160 million in debt relief to successful claimants who currently owe USDA money for eligible farm loans. Successful claimants will also receive an additional amount equal to 25% of the combined cash award plus debt relief, to help pay federal taxes that may be owed. Your claim will be decided by a claims adjudicator with independent decision-making authority. The filing deadline for participating in this settlement offer is March 25, 2013.
"If you choose this settlement option, you are waiving your right to continue with a lawsuit against USDA," notes Adcock. You need to ask yourself these questions: Do I qualify for a settlement? How do I prove it? How do I submit a claim? Where can I get assistance with filing my claim? Who has more information?~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
These questions and more will be addressed during the January 8 webinar by two expert presenters (see below for more information on them). WFAN executive director Leigh Adcock will moderate the discussion. Participants will be encouraged to submit questions via the chat window during and after the presentation; our presenters will answer as many of them as possible in the time we have together.
Information on the presenters who will be appearing on the Webinar and speaking on this topic
* Lynn A. Hayes was a founding attorney at Farmers Legal Action Group or FLAG, and now serves as its program director. Lynn worked for the USDA Office of the Monitor for three years, reviewing African-American farmers' claims in the racial discrimination case against USDA, Pigford v. Veneman. During her tenure at FLAG, Lynn Hayes was lead or co-counsel in several lawsuits, including Coleman v. Lyng (national class action lawsuit against the Farmers Home Administration); the Minnesota Milk Producers Association's challenge to federal milk marketing order provisions; and the pork checkoff case. Attorney Hayes has presented hundreds of workshops for farmers and their advocates on agricultural credit, contract-farming, environmental, commodity pricing, and anti-trust issues.
* Lorette Picciano has served as executive director of the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, a Washington, DC-based alliance of more than 70 culturally diverse community based organizations representing small producers and farmworkers in the U.S. and Mexico, since 1992. RC has for more than 30 years been a leading organization working to secure civil and human rights in the agriculture and trade sectors, and especially in the movement to secure equity for all farmers and farmworkers from USDA. Rural Coalition also connects with its sister communities in North America and globally, and is a member organization of the international farmers movement, La Via Campesina.
Webinar is hosted by Women, Food & Agriculture Network; here's how to tune-in
Adcock explains, "This webinar is hosted by Women, Food and Agriculture Network, whose mission is to link and empower women to build food systems and communities that are healthy, just, sustainable, and that promote environmental integrity. It is part of the Plate to Politics program, a collaboration with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service or MOSES Rural Women's Project. You can visit the Plate to Politics website to learn about more upcoming webinars."
Adcock says you should visit this link to get instructions for Adobe Connect. "Please take time to follow these instructions prior to signing in to the webinar on January 8," she says. "If you have trouble opening this link, you can email us at [email protected] and we'll send you the document directly. Are you able to join us live? This webinar will be archived on the WFAN and Plate to Politics websites within a few days after the event."