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Native American farmers, ranchers may be eligible for benefits from discrimination settlement

Native American farmers or ranchers who believe the U.S. Department of Agriculture improperly denied loan benefits to them for certain time periods between 1981 and 199 because of their race may be eligible to receive benefits from a $760 million class action discrimination settlement.

According to a news release from the USDA's Farm Service Agency, people may be eligible receive benefits if they farmed or ranched or attempted to do so between Jan. 1, 1981, and Nov. 24, 1999; tried to get a farm loan or loan servicing from USA during that period; and complained about discrimination to USDA either personally or through a representative during that time period.

Those who filed a claim, or intended to file a claim, in other USDA discrimination cases, such as those involving black farmers, Hispanic farmers and female farmers. Because of a law passed by Congress, people are also not eligible for this settlement if they experienced discrimination only between Jan. 1 and Nov. 23, 1997, or complained of discrimination only between July 1 and Nov. 23, 1997.

Two payment tracks exist for discrimination claims. Track A provides a payment of up to $50,000 for discrimination claims, plus an additional 25 percent paid to the Internal Revenue Service to reduce any income tax that may be owed. Track B claimants can get the amount of actual damages up to $250,000. Track B requires more proof for alleged discriminations than Track A does.

Claims must be filed by Dec. 27 to receive benefits. After the settlement is approved in court, meetings will be held across the country to help class members file claims.

To register for a claims package, visit or call 888-233-5506.