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USDA Reminds Native American Farmers and Ranchers that Keepseagle Settlement Claims Filing Period Closes Dec. 27
WASHINGTON, December 13, 2011 – Janie Hipp, Senior Adviser to Secretary Vilsack for Tribal Relations, today reminded Native American farmers and ranchers that the period to file a claim in the Keepseagle class action settlement remains open through December 27, 2011.
"Native American farmers and ranchers who feel entitled to funds under the Keepseagle settlements have two weeks remaining to file a claim before the December 27, 2011, deadline," said Ms. Hipp. "USDA urges Tribal leaders to educate members on the claims package process and distribute the toll-free number for assistance with filing before the period closes."
Keepseagle v. Vilsack was a lawsuit alleging that USDA discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program. The lawsuit was settled late last year and the settlement has been approved by the court.
The filing period opened June 29, 2011 and continues for 180 days until December 27, 2011.
Up to $760 million will be made available in monetary relief, debt relief, and tax relief to successful claimants. There are two tracks for claims: Successful Track A claimants may receive up to $50,000; successful Track B claimants may receive up to $250,000. The standard of proof for Track B claims is a higher standard than what will be applied to Track A claims.
Keepseagle class counsel continues to hold meetings throughout Indian Country and will provide assistance to Track A claimants at those meetings and by phone. The dates and times of the meetings are posted on the Keepseagle claims website: http://www.indianfarmclass.com.
Claimant services representatives can also be reached through calling 1-888-233-5506. Claimants must register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website) and the claims package will be mailed to claimants.
This announcement does not relate to claims for African American, women or Hispanic farmers. Those claims will be subject to different processes, and information will be forthcoming in the coming months.
Under Secretary Vilsack's leadership, USDA is addressing civil rights complaints that go back decades, to usher in "a new era of civil rights" for the Department and to pave the way for new and stronger relationships with the farming and ranching community. In February 2010, Secretary Vilsack announced the Pigford II settlement with African American farmers, and in October 2010, he announced the Keepseagle settlement with Native American farmers. In February 2011, Secretary Vilsack announced his intention to establish a process to resolve the claims of Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers and he has made it a priority to resolve all of the civil rights cases facing the Department which were inherited by this Administration.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).