WASHINGTON, D.C. (WRIC) — The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency says that throughout its history, “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers have been discriminated against when applying for loans. According to the USDA, this discrimination was sometimes overt but also came in the form of rules and policies.
Socially disadvantaged groups include people subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice.
Now through the Federal Farm Service Agency, the USDA plans to use American Rescue Plan Act funding to begin loan payments to farmers and ranchers today who are struggling with the impacts of discriminatory lending.
The USDA plans for payments to begin in early June. In order to qualify, farmers must have a qualifying direct farm loan from the agency.
According to a release, ranchers and farmers with guaranteed loan balances and direct loans that are without collateral causing the Department of Treasury to contact them for debt collection will receive a notice within 120 days.
Using the American Rescue Plan Act funding, the USDA can pay up 120% of outstanding loan balances for farmers and ranchers identified as disadvantaged.
Money has also been given to members of these groups through multiple class-action lawsuits against the USDA.
More information about the loan payments is available online.