California's Farm Service Agency will hold a public meeting Wednesday in Ventura for Hispanic and female farmers and ranchers who can prove they faced discrimination when applying for federal farm loans or loan servicing between 1981 and 2000.
The meeting will be from 7-8 p.m. at the Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner's Office, California Room, 1st Floor, 669 County Square Drive.
Val Dolcini, state executive director of the agency, will give a bilingual presentation about the claim filing process. Spanish language assistance will be provided.
The U.S. Agriculture and Justice departments have offered the farmers and ranchers the ability to file claims as an alternative to litigation.
Claimants can file until March 25. There are no filing fees. People who do not file can pursue their cases in court, the state agency said.
The USDA has at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments and up to $160 million in farm debt relief for eligible Hispanic and female farmers and ranchers.
In January, the government increased the maximum cash recovery for such claims against the USDA to $250,000 from $50,000.
The federal government extended the claim opportunity to Hispanic and female farmers and ranchers after it settled lawsuits that provided $1.25 billion to African-American farmers and $760 million to American Indian farmers.
Those interested in receiving a claims package or getting more information can visit http://www.farmerclaims.gov or call the Farmer and Rancher Call Center at 888-508-4429.For more information on the California meetings, call 530-792-5520. For other meeting sites, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/ca.
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