For Immediate Release
October 17, 2011
Dan Steinkruger, State Executive Director, at (402) 437-5581 or email@example.com
Lincoln, NE (October 17, 2011) – Dan Steinkruger, State Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency, reminded Native American farmers and ranchers that the period to file a claim in the Keepseagle class action settlement is open.
“Native American farmers and ranchers who believe they are entitled to funds under the Keepseagle settlement must file a claim in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness” stated Steinkruger. Tribal leaders may want to consider advising Tribal members of the requirement to obtain and submit a completed claims package if they wish to participate in the Keepseagle claims process.
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 until December 27, 2011.
USDA will pay up to $760 million 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. Other than proof of tribal membership, no documentation is required for a Track A claim. For Track B, claimants will need to provide documentation that meets the evidence requirements of a Federal court and proves all of the required elements described in the claims package.
Keepseagle class counsel is holding a number of meetings throughout Indian Country where they will provide assistance to help Track A claimants fill out a claims package at those meetings. The dates and times of the meetings are posted on the Keepseagle claims website: www.indianfarmclass.com
. Claimant services representatives can also be reached through calling 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. All those interested in learning more or receiving information about the claims process and claims packages are encouraged to attend a meeting and contact the website or claims telephone number.
Steinkruger noted, “The claims periods are part of the efforts underway at USDA to address longstanding civil rights issues and close a chapter in the department’s history, while paving the way for the creation of new relationships with the farming and ranching community.”
USDA is an equal opportunity employee and provider.