How to Join the Class Action Lawsuit Against the USDA

By Osborne & Francis
July 18, 2024

For decades, farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have depended on subsidies and loans from the federal government to acquire land, tools, seeds, livestock, and cover living expenses. However, those loans have not been distributed equally. After numerous complaints that loan applicants have been treated unfairly based on factors like race and gender, Congress has created a fund for them to recover compensation for their losses.

For more information on how to join the class action lawsuit against the USDA and receive compensation from the farmer discrimination assistance fund, reach out to our team at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando. The personal injury attorneys of Osborne & Francis can offer you unparalleled expertise, the benefit of our years of experience, and a relentless drive to maximize your compensation. 

Farmers Sue the USDA After a History of Unfair Loan Practices

As an institution, the USDA has long faced allegations of unfair treatment of loan applicants based on characteristics like race, gender, or disability. For example, minority and women farmers have been denied loans, subjected to unreasonable terms, had their loans deferred, or otherwise treated differently based on factors like race. This systemic bias has led to generations of disenfranchisement, particularly among Black farmers

A group of Black farmers was successful in securing a significant settlement for their damages about ten years ago, which paved the way for other disenfranchised groups to pursue their own claims of discrimination while seeking USDA loans. To address accusations of discriminatory conduct by loan officers, the federal government is providing an opportunity for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to recover compensation for their damages.

In 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act which established a 2.2 billion dollar fund for this purpose. The USDA is partnering with non-governmental organizations to vet individual claims and hand out the discrimination financial assistance. The distribution network is currently being established, with the goal of disbursing settlements by 2023,

Check Qualifications for Joining the Farming Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit

Class action lawsuits are designed to allow a group of plaintiffs claiming similar injuries from the same source of negligence to combine their efforts to recover compensation. In the case of farmers, ranchers, and landowners who have faced discrimination while trying to obtain a USDA loan, the Inflation Reduction Act outlines certain parameters for eligibility in the class action lawsuit. The current requirements are:

  • The discrimination occurred before January 1st, 2021
  • The plaintiffs is a farmer, rancher, or forest landowner
  • The discrimination falls under one of the stipulated categories, such as an unfair loan deferment
  • The farmer, rancher, or forest landowner was applying for a Direct FSA farm loan
  • The plaintiff experienced some form of damages as a result of the discrimination

If you are unsure if you meet these requirements, you can contact our team for clarification.

Gather Any Evidence You Have of Loan Discrimination and Your Damages

In the farming discrimination lawsuits, plaintiffs will be asked to present evidence to support their assertion that they were treated unfairly during the loans process based on factors like their nationality, disability, and sexual orientation. This may include things such as receipts, bank statements, loan documents, meeting notes, and emails. For example, a civil rights attorney could use bank records to show that other white farmers in similar financial situations were given loans when a Black farmer was denied a loan.

Additionally, you should collect any evidence you have that demonstrates that the discrimination you experienced had an impact on your family’s financial situation, your mental health, or caused other losses. For example, maybe a sexist loan officer demanded an unreasonable level of collateral in order to offer you a loan to buy seeds for the next year. As a result, your family was forced to sell your farming operation and move. Not only have you lost your source of income, but also your family legacy. In order to ensure that you are fairly compensated, you should provide your farming discrimination attorney with any documentation you have to validate your economic and non-economic damages.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to Proceed

If you are considering pursuing a claim against the USDA under the IRA, you should hire a personal injury attorney to represent your individual interests. Specifically, you should seek out a civil rights attorney with a proven record of settling claims. They will be able to help you compile evidence and create a cohesive file for your case. Additionally, they will help you determine the value of your damages, draft statements, and negotiate for a fair settlement. Right now, the pool of funds for potential compensation is limited, so hiring a civil rights lawyer to advocate for your needs is critical to the maximum compensation you deserve. 

Why Should I Choose Osborne and Francis to Represent Me?

Our personal injury law firm has a unique asset in attorney Greg Francis, as he was lead counsel for the original wave of claims filed by Black farmers who had experienced discrimination while pursuing loans. He helped negotiate an unprecedented 1.25 billion dollars for Black farmers’ damages and set a high standard for future negotiations. His experience litigating similar claims gives our team an advantage when it comes to advocating for your needs. 

At Osborne & Francis, we can provide attention to the nuances of your individual case. We have worked tirelessly to earn the trust of our clients by following through on our promises and exceeding expectations. As a result, we are one of Florida’s leading personal injury law firms with a reputation for getting results for our injured clients.

Osborne & Francis Stands With Farmers. Contact Our Team for Help Filing Your Claim Against the USDA

The discrimination displayed by loan officers over decades has profoundly impacted generations of farmers. At Osborne & Francis, we believe that this is not only unacceptable, but we are also resolved to take action to rectify it. Our team is committed to supporting farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners as they navigate the class action lawsuit against the USDA to recover compensation for their losses.

The civil rights attorneys of Osborne & Francis will not let the USDA’s history of discrimination go unanswered. You can count on our team to go above and beyond to ensure that your ultimate settlement properly reflects the extent of the damages you sustained, even if that means taking your farmer discrimination claim to trial.

As your personal injury attorneys, we will prioritize maximizing your compensation because we understand that the amount you recover now will likely have a lasting impact on your family’s financial future. Our trustworthy team will investigate your claim, leverage evidence, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. You can reach us at (561) 678-0156 or contact our offices in Boca Raton or Orlando to schedule a free consultation with one of our farming discrimination attorneys.

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