The United States government is establishing a claims process to make available $1.33 billion or more to farmers who alleged discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on being female, or based on being Hispanic, in making or servicing farm loans during certain periods between 1981 and 2000. Persons who qualify and submit a timely claim could receive an award of up to $50,000 in cash.

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 may also receive an additional amount, equal to 25 percent of the combined cash award plus debt relief, to help pay federal taxes that may be owed.

Persons can request a claim package, which will include forms and instructions for filing a claim, from the Women and Hispanic Claims Program or by calling 1.888.508.4429 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. Claimants will have 180 days from the opening date of the claims period, to be announced by the USDA, within which to file a complete claims package.