By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc

WASHINGTON, July 27 –Native American farmers and ranchers who are eligible to file a claim in the Keepseagle class action settlement must do so no later than December 27.   The 180-day filing period opened June 29, 2011.
"Now that the claims process is open, Native American farmers and ranchers who believe they are entitled to funds under the Keepseagle settlement must file a claim within 180 days in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness," said Janie Hipp, Senior Adviser to Secretary Vilsack for Tribal Relations. "Tribal leaders may want to consider advising Tribal members of the requirement to obtain and submit a completed claims package if they wish to participate in the Keepseagle claims process."
Keepseagle v. Vilsack was a lawsuit alleging that USDA discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program. The lawsuit was settled late last year and the settlement has been approved by the court.
Up to $760 million will be made available in monetary relief, debt relief, and tax relief to successful claimants. There are two tracks for claims: Successful Track A claimants may receive up to $50,000; successful Track B claimants may receive up to $250,000. The standard of proof for Track B claims is a higher standard than what will be applied to Track A claims.

Keepseagle class counsel is holding a number of meetings in the coming months throughout Indian Country and they will provide assistance to help Track A claimants fill out a claims package at those meetings. The dates and times of the meetings are posted on the Keepseagle claims website:

Claimant services representatives can also be reached by calling 888-233-5506. Claims packages will be mailed after claimants register by calling the number or visiting the website. Those interested in learning more or receiving information about the claims process and claims packages can visit the website at or call the number at 888-233-5506.
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