The USDA is facing strong criticism for its unofficial policy of discrimination towards borrowers based on factors like race, gender, and nationality. This has resulted in significant financial losses, which can impact the success of a farm for generations.To provide impacted borrowers with compensation for their damages, Congress has passed legislation that will allow them to file a claim.
If you have experienced discrimination perpetrated by the USDA while securing a loan, you probably have questions about your eligibility to recover compensation for damages. The civil rights lawyers of Osborne & Francis are prepared to explain the process of filing a claim for Discrimination Financial Assistance, review your case, and help calculate the value of your claim. You can reach us at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss the legal options available to you.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Provides a Path for Compensation
The larger purpose of the Inflation Reduction Act is to offset the effects of inflation, limited soaring prescription drug prices, and push for clean energy. The IRA also has a section that allows farms, ranchers, and forest landowners who have experienced discrimination in connection with certain loans to receive financial assistance.
Congress has set aside a total of 2.2 billion dollars, as they anticipate that there will be a significant number of claims with extensive damages related to discriminatory loan practices. Individual claims may be compensated up to $500,000. In order to do so, they will need to demonstrate that they were discriminated against by the USDA during the process of securing or while owing a loan, and experienced damages as a result.
What is Considered Discrimination by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)?
There are a number of types of discrimination that may qualify for compensation under the IRA. Some examples include:
- Unfair loan denials based on aspects like race or gender, especially in favor of a “more desirable” candidate
- Discriminatory loan terms or change of loan terms that disrupts cash flow
- Deliberate deferment or delay of loan approval that jeopardizes the borrower’s operation
- Demanding excessive collateral for a loan
- Inappropriate level of supervision by a loan officer
In order to recover compensation, the plaintiff must have suffered damages as a result of the discriminatory behavior they faced. The damages may be economic or non-economic in nature.
Who Can Receive Financial Assistance From the IRA
The IRA has stipulated that farmers, ranchers, and landowners who have faced discrimination by the USDA while pursuing a loan may make a claim to secure compensation for their damages. It is anticipated that this discrimination must be rooted in a bias against one of the characteristics that they recognize in their anti-discrimination policy, although other categories may be added at a later date. The USDA anti-discrimination policy names the following characteristics:
- National Origin
- Gender Identity (including Gender Expression)
- Sexual Orientation
- Marital Status
- Family/Parental Status
- Income Derived from a Public Assistance Program
- Political Beliefs
- Retaliation from Previous Civil Rights Activity
Are There Any Other Qualifying Criteria?
First, the discrimination must have taken place prior to January 1st, 2021. As discussed, there are several forms of discrimination that will likely be covered by the IRA, although that list may expand. The discrimination claim must pertain to the USDA farm lending programs. Additionally, only certain types of loans qualify for compensation under the IRA. The types of loans that are eligible for reimbursement for damages include:
- Direct Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm loans
- FSA-guaranteed loans issued by a private lender will likely be covered
At this time, non FSA-guaranteed loans issued by private lenders and USDA loans that are not farm related do not qualify for Discrimination Financial Assistance under the IRA. Finally, borrowers who are applying for Discrimination Financial Assistance must be able to show that they sustained damages as a result of the discrimination they faced from the USDA.
How to Receive Compensation from the IRA
In order to access the funds that Congress has made available in the IRA, farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who have been discriminated against by the USDA during the loan process will need to file a claim for Discrimination Financial Assistance. The best way to initiate this process is by scheduling a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer who has a proven record of successfully settling civil rights claims.
A civil rights attorney can offer knowledge of the legal process, access to expert witnesses, and a centralized operation to manage administrative tasks. They will handle advocating on your behalf to maximize your compensation. Additionally, there is a limited pool of money available at this time, so in order to ensure that you receive a fair settlement you will need an expert who is a tough negotiator.
Why Should I Choose Osborne & Francis?
Our team is uniquely qualified to handle the farming discrimination claims, as our own Greg Francis has successfully represented a Black farmers who were discriminated against by the USDA during the loans process. He helped secure a 1.25 billion dollar settlement for these farmers. His commitment and legal prowess are reflected in our top-notch team of civil rights attorneys.
We have earned a reputation for success based on our work ethic, attention to detail, and years of experience. Our clients trust us to prioritize their needs as we seek to maximize their compensation. The civil rights attorneys of Osborne & Francis can offer you unparalleled dedication to your claim and extensive legal experience in comparable cases, a highly beneficial combination.
Osborne & Francis are Here to Help You. Contact Us Today to Learn More
At Osborne & Francis, we take pride in providing high quality legal advice to clients who have been unfairly discriminated against in order to help them recover the compensation they deserve in civil rights claims. We accomplish this by devoting our attention to the details of your case, thoroughly reviewing any available evidence, and forming a strong strategy to maximize your compensation.
Our team of personal injury attorneys is not afraid to fight for the compensation you deserve, even if that means taking your claim to trial. The trial attorneys of Osborne & Francis have ample experience litigating complex claims, and we are prepared to handle any challenges we encounter.
If you have experienced discrimination during the USDA loans process, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced civil rights attorney as soon as possible. You can reach us at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss the eligibility of your claim and how much your damages may be worth in a farming discrimination lawsuit.