Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Val Dolcini announced that a series of public meetings will be held in California to explain the discrimination claims process that opened on September 24, 2012 and will remain open until March 25, 2013.

Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades can file claims during this period and may receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness.

“We encourage those Hispanic and women farmers or ranchers in California who feel they may have experienced discriminatory treatment to attend a meeting to learn more about this claims process,” said Dolcini. “At FSA we are dedicated to ensuring fair and equal treatment for all California farmers and ranchers in our state.”

Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices from the USDA must file a claim by March 25, 2013 in order to participate in this claims resolution process. This 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.

As announced in February 2011, the process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can prove that USDA denied their applications for loan or loan servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000. There are no filing fees to participate in the program.

A national toll-free information line is available at 1-888-508-4429 and a national website has been established at www.farmerclaims.gov. Claimants must register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website) and the claims package will be mailed to claimants.

For details about the public meetings in California, you can contact the FSA state office at 530-792-5520.  A list of all California meeting location addresses and dates is also available at www.fsa.usda.gov/ca.

Attend a local meeting to learn more about this claims process:

Oct. 10 – Salinas

Nov. 8 – Yuba City

Dec. 11 – Escondido

Oct. 17 – Ventura

Nov. 15 – Stockton

Dec. 12 – El Centro

Oct. 18 – Santa Maria

Nov. 28 – Elk Grove

Jan. 16 – Moreno Valley

Oct. 23 – Bakersfield

Nov. 29 – Petaluma

Jan. 23 – Red Bluff

Oct. 24 – Fresno