Inflation Reduction Act: Discrimination Claims for Farmers

Legally Reviewed By
Greg Francis
A new law may provide significant compensation for farmers who have experienced discrimination in connection with loans associated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read on to learn who qualifies, what is available, and how to contact a lawyer for assistance.

In August 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) with the intent to flood the market with money to combat inflation. Part of this act was designed to provide “Discrimination Financial Assistance” for farmers, ranchers, or forest landowners who have experienced loan discrimination prior to January 1, 2021.

The Act provides compensation for those who have been subject to discrimination related to loans granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or other categories. The USDA has a long history of discrimination when it comes to its lending process. According to the act, there will be a total $2.2 billion set aside for these claims, and up to $500k is available per claim.  

It is expected that there will be many questions regarding the approval process, such as what is considered “discrimination,” and who qualifies for the financial assistance. We also anticipate that the approval process will be lengthy and will involve an exhaustive examination of evidence and documents regarding the discrimination. 

When dealing with government agencies and officers, you need a law firm that has direct experience with such discrimination cases. Learn more about Attorney Greg Francis’ book on discrimination against black farmers; view his video below to watch him speak about the injustices farmers have faced in the past. 

If you or a loved one have experienced discrimination in relation to a USDA farm loan, you may be eligible for relief under the Inflation Reduction Act. Contact Osborne & Francis at (561) 293-2600 to schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your legal rights and options regarding financial assistance. Read more below about what the Inflation Reduction Act means for affected farmers.

It is highly likely that the USDA will include all of these categories of possible discrimination for the IRA program, and may even possibly add others. Thus, if you are a farmer, rancher, or forest landowner, and have experienced discrimination in connection with a USDA farm lending program because you belong to any of these categories, you may be eligible for compensation.

Eligibility factors may become more defined as the IRA program unfolds, so contact a lawyer if you have questions about your ability to claim assistance. 

Video Transcript

So you've been in a car accident. What happens next? There are many things that you should do but here are the three most important:

Number One: See a doctor immediately. 

A broken bone is easy to see, but some injuries are not. The most common injuries from car accidents happen in the neck, back, or head. The only way to diagnose and treat them is by seeing a doctor. A doctor can help ease the pain, provide medication, reassure you of how your injury may impact your daily life, and tell you what not to do to make it worse.

A visit to the doctor can also give you legally protected time off to recover and rest your body after an accident, and it documents and provides the evidence you may need for your case. Even a five-mile-per-hour car accident can cause a serious injury. So whether you've had a severe accident or a minor collision, see a doctor. And if you don't have medical insurance, let us know and we'll make sure that you receive the proper care. 

Number Two: Write everything down.

Even if it seems small, during times of stress or injury it is common to forget the little details. Make sure you keep note of the pain that you're in. With neck, back, and head injuries, sometimes simple activities such as walking up the stairs or picking up a toddler may cause severe pain. 

You may not be sleeping well at night. Documenting how much you sleep and how often you wake up due to pain is also very important. And lastly, if you have any cuts or bruises, take daily photos as you heal. This will provide visual evidence of the injuries that you've suffered. 

Number Three: Do not speak to an insurance company until you've spoken to a lawyer.

Please understand that the insurance adjuster works for a billion-dollar corporation and not for you. Their interests are solely for their insurance company, and their goal is to provide you with the least amount of financial settlement as quickly as possible. When you do speak with them, remember they will record the conversation. Why do they do this? Because they've been trained to ask questions that may confuse you. So talk to us before you talk to them. 

So remember: See a doctor, document everything, and call us before calling the insurance company for your free private consultation. We are here for you. Real tough lawyers fighting real tough issues.

Who Is Eligible for Assistance?

To be deemed eligible for assistance, a farmer, rancher, or forest landowner must have experienced discrimination prior to January 1, 2021. The IRA does not specifically define what type of discrimination is covered by the Discrimination Financial Assistance program. 

Generally speaking, the USDA has antidiscrimination policies that prohibit discrimination based on categories which include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Gender Identity (including Gender Expression)
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Disability
  • Age 
  • Marital Status
  • Family/Parental Status
  • Income Derived from a Public Assistance Program
  • Political Beliefs
  • Reprisal or Retaliation from Previous Civil Rights Activity

What Is Considered “Discrimination” for the Purposes of the IRA?

Discrimination Financial Assistance could cover various forms of discrimination under the IRA. In order to prove discrimination, indirect financial proof will be needed. It will usually require an examination of the conduct, actions, or decisions of a loan officer.  

Proving discrimination involves any evidence of the following: 

  • Loan denials: Denying a loan based on a person’s race, sex, gender, political affiliation, or other characteristic is discrimination. This is especially true where the loan denial is made in favor of someone the loan officer knew or preferred.
  • Unfair loan terms or change of terms: A loan officer or agent may discriminate by making changes to loan terms which stops cash flow. Failure to inform a loan applicant of any changes and get them approved by the borrower can also constitute discrimination. 
  • Deferred or delayed loans: A loan officer might purposely defer or delay a loan application to the point where the farmer has an unsuccessful harvest season. 
  • Excessive collateral: Discrimination can occur if an agent attempts to discourage an applicant by requiring a risky or unreasonable amount of collateral for the loan.
  • Insistence on a loan officer being involved: Insisting on the involvement of a loan officer to the point where it interferes with the farmer’s rights can be another form of discrimination. 

This is not an exhaustive list, and other forms of discrimination that harm farmers may apply as well. Generally, the most common and easiest way for discrimination to occur in an FSA loan program is to discourage a person from applying, or to fail to provide thorough information about available options. 

Osborne & Francis has extensive experience in litigating civil rights violations of farmers specifically involving discrimination. Attorney Greg Francis served as lead counsel for the team of lawyers who recovered a $1.25 billion settlement on behalf of over 33,000 black farmers who suffered systematic discrimination by USDA over decades. This is the largest civil rights discrimination settlement in U.S. history.

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Which Lending Programs Does the IRA Discrimination Financial Assistance Apply To? 

To be eligible for Discrimination Financial Assistance under the IRA, the discrimination must have occurred specifically in relation to USDA farm lending programs. Eligibility may depend on the nature of the loan and the setting in which the discrimination occurred: 

USDA Loans

  • Direct Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Loans: DOES create eligibility. Discrimination occurring in connection with these types of loans does create eligibility for assistance.
  • Non-Farm Loans at USDA: DOES NOT create eligibility. Discrimination in USDA programs that do not involve farm loans does not create eligibility. For instance, discrimination that happens in connection with a USDA housing loan will not be eligible for Discrimination Financial Assistance.

Private Lenders

  • Discrimination By a Private Lender for an FSA-Guaranteed Loan: DOES create liability. The IRA still needs to clarify whether discrimination by the private lender only (not the FSA) creates eligibility for assistance. It is likely that this type of discrimination will qualify, since if Congress wanted the IRA to apply only to USDA discrimination, it would have done so.
  • Non-FSA Guaranteed Private Loans: DOES NOT create eligibility. Generally, discrimination by a bank or other lending institution on a non-FSA guaranteed loan will not qualify for Discrimination Financial Assistance.

As you can see, determining eligibility for Discrimination Financial Assistance will be a challenging task. A skilled attorney can help evaluate your legal rights and how to proceed with a claim.

Farmers feed the nation. In addition to the food and materials produced, the work farmers and landowners do tending the soil and ground helps balance the local environment and benefits the community. You should be valued for your contributions, not discriminated against due to personal characteristics. A lawsuit can help right past wrongs, and set new legal precedents so that such violations never happen again.

How Much Is Available for Claims?

There is $2.2 billion in total set aside for these claims, and up to $500k is available per claim. Questions are arising as to whether the $2.2 billion will be enough to distribute for all those who need the financial assistance. It is possible that Congress could grant USDA more funds for the program, but there is no guarantee of this. 

The IRA states that funding for the Discrimination Financial Assistance program must be used by September 31, 2031.

We do not advise to wait to file you claim as funds will likely be exhausted well before this date!

Thus, the most important thing you can do if you believe you qualify for assistance is to act quickly. You should reach out to a lawyer for advice and guidance before the time runs out and you miss out on your opportunity to receive discrimination financial assistance. 

When should I contact a lawyer regarding IRA Discrimination Financial Assistance?

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“I am so thankful for EVERYONE, the entire staff at Osborne & Francis Law, for mentoring me through the mediation process with my hip replacement failures. I didn't realize how MUCH pressure they relieved me of by helping me deal with the reality of this traumatic time in my life, as it was OVER so quickly with a positive result. My family is grateful to have their mom HAPPY & FOCUSED on the future, rather than worrying over what happened in the past! FAST FORWARD, we are LIVING LIFE to the fullest once again!”

T. Andrews

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“Attorneys Greg Francis and Ryan Fletcher at Osborne & Francis Law Firm represented me in my personal injury case.The defendant drew a line in the sand and was adamant on a settlement amount I was almost willing to accept. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, we settled for 3 times that amount!!! When they say ‘Real Tough Lawyers,’ they mean it.”

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Dennis and the other Osborne & Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care. Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step by step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us. For every inquiry we made we received a timely response...You are appreciated!

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Quick and fair resolution to a unique case. On advice of my own attorney, I engaged Joseph Osborne of Osborne & Francis of Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Osborne had considerable experience in cases such as mine and the results showed that. Mr. Osborne and his staff were very helpful, kept me up to date, and listened to my input. The settlement was very fair as far as I am concerned.

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"Best personal injury attorney around, I could not be happier! I was seriously injured in a car accident and Osborne and Francis helped me through the entire process. I was blown away by how knowledgeable the staff and attorneys are at this incredible law firm. I would not hesitate to recommend this law firm to friends and family!"

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How Can I Contact a Lawyer for Help With an IRA Discrimination Financial Assistance Claim?

Farmers have historically faced all sorts of discrimination in dealing with the USDA and other similar organizations. At Osborne & Francis, we recognize the hard work and dedication that farmers provide in supporting our nation, and we aim to protect their legal rights to the fullest extent. 

The IRA has potential to be of great significance for the farming community. However, as you can see, applying for Discrimination Financial Assistance under the IRA may be complex, and will involve highly technical requirements and documentation. 

If you or a loved one have been subjected to discrimination in dealing with a loan, you may be entitled to financial assistance for your losses. Contact our lawyers at (561) 293-2600 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your claim. 

We have been an integral part of the largest civil rights settlement in U.S. history in a case dealing directly with discrimination against farmers. Our firm is at the forefront of the movement to advocate for farmers’ rights, and we fight zealously to ensure they are fully remedied under the law.   

Frequently Asked Questions

IRA Farmer Discrimination Assistance Program FAQs

When should I contact a lawyer regarding IRA Discrimination Financial Assistance?

If you have experienced discrimination in connection with a USDA farm loan, you should contact a lawyer right away. Funds under the IRA Discrimination Financial Assistance program will be capped at a certain amount, and will only be available for a limited period of time. You should secure legal representation immediately so you don’t miss your chance to recover. 

How long will the application process take?

Each farmer loan discrimination case is unique, and there is no set time for how long the entire process will take. Claims will be reviewed on an individual basis, and additional documentation or proof could be requested in the process. Moreover, application factors may be subject to updates as more applications are submitted. Take action now — the longer you wait, the more you risk additional delays. 

How can a lawyer help with my IRA Discrimination Financial Assistance claim?

A farmer discrimination lawyer can provide much-needed assistance when applying. They can review your case, ensure that you meet all legal requirements, and help with documents to ensure nothing is missing. Failure to meet application requirements or deadlines can result in delay or even denial of your claim, but a lawyer can help make sure this doesn’t happen.

Why should I choose Osborne & Francis for help with an IRA Discrimination Financial Assistance claim?

At Osborne & Francis, we have significant experience dealing specifically with systematic, widespread discrimination against farmers. We served as lead counsel in a case that resulted in a $1.25 billion settlement for over 30,000 farmers who were discriminated against. This is the largest civil rights settlement in U.S. history. 

When processing your application, you want to work with a firm that knows your exact needs when it comes to dealing with government agencies and officers. Contact Osborne & Francis at (561) 293-2600 to get started with your claim.