WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Millions of Hispanics work on the American farms and ranches that feed the world. The future of farming will require more Hispanics with a strong entrepreneurial spirit to start agricultural businesses to meet the rising global demand for food products. Because of the importance of this high growth industry, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) will continue to ensure that Hispanic farmers and ranchers have full access to the federal resources that will help them prosper in the food economy.
Because of a history of discrimination against Hispanic farmers and ranchers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new claims process is especially important for making clear that there is a new day at USDA. The USHCC applauds Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for prioritizing justice for Hispanic farmers and ranchers.
The Secretary announced, "Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege past discrimination are encouraged to participate in an improved claims process in which they have the opportunity to recover up to $250,000 in damages."
The increase is significant – previously, the maximum cash recovery amount was $50,000. For eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers, the updated voluntary claims process will make available over $1 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments and up to $160 million in farm debt relief.
"We were excited to hear Secretary Vilsack's announcement of improvements to the USDA claims process," said USHCC President & CEO Javier Palomarez. "His announcement last week of an increase in the maximum cash recovery amount shows his commitment to resolving longstanding claims and to institutionalizing a new era of civil rights at USDA. I thank the Secretary for his continued commitment to Hispanic farmers and ranchers."
USHCC staff recently met with USDA leadership to discuss the claims process, and the USHCC will continue to promote the claims process with Hispanic food entrepreneurs. The claims process serves as a sound alternative to litigation for Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who can prove their loan or loan servicing requests were denied by the USDA for discriminatory reasons during certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.
By visiting farmerclaims.gov, individuals can register to receive a claims package or obtain more information on the claims process.
About the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Founded in 1979, the USHCC actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and represents the interests of over 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States that combined generate in excess of $465 billion annually. It also serves as the umbrella organization for more than 200 local Hispanic chambers and business associations in the United States and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit www.ushcc.com.
SOURCE United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce