Updated: Aug 23
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On July 7, 2023, the USDA announced that it is now accepting applications from eligible farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination by the USDA in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021. Recall from my March 1st post that, in Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress directed the USDA to provide financial assistance to those who faced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021. The law allows any farmer, of any race, to receive assistance up to $500,000 “as determined to be appropriate based on any consequences experienced from the discrimination.” Information, including how to apply and where to get assistance in applying, is available in English and Spanish at https://22007apply.gov. Detailed information is available below. Here are the highlights about the USDA’s Discrimination Financial Assistance Program:
***Applications will be accepted through October 31, 2023***
***Applying is free***
***Assistance with applying is free***
***All applications will be reviewed after October 31st***
Who is eligible for assistance?
Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination by the USDA in its farm loan programs prior to January 1, 2021, and/or are currently debtors with assigned or assumed USDA farm loan debt that was the subject of USDA discrimination that occurred prior to January 1, 2021, are eligible for this program. Visit Am I Eligible? to determine if you are eligible to participate.
How do I apply for assistance?
The deadline for filing an application is October 31, 2023. You can apply online at https://22007apply.gov by using the e-filing portal. You can also download a paper copy of the application from the https://22007apply.gov website, and either mail it or hand deliver it to one of the program’s regional offices before the deadline. The application includes step-by-step directions and a list of documents that are either required or recommended at each step. Visit Timeline and Program Deadlines for deadline details associated with filing an application.
If you apply for assistance, be sure to explain in your application materials how you personally experienced discrimination and also how that impacted your farm, your family, and you. This information is important because the amount of assistance you’ll receive will be based on your personal experience and the impacts that the discriminatory actions had on you.
How can I get assistance in applying?
Eight community-based organizations are serving as cooperators with USDA and third-party administrators to implement the program and to assist farmers and ranchers who have faced discrimination in prior farm loan processes. The cooperators are:
If you would like assistance with completing the required application, you can go to any brick and mortar regional office and get help with applying. The help is free. You do not have to pay for assistance. You can find the regional office nearest to you by visiting https://22007apply.gov/local-assistance.html.
There are three regional offices located in the Delmarva area. One is Maryland’s Regional Office, located at 6710A Rockledge Dr., Suite 400, in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s open from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. Another is Maryland's Eastern Shore Regional Office, located at 8209 Cedarville Rd. in Brandywine, Maryland. That office is also open from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. The third is located at the Cameron Building at 325 Brown Street, Suite 100, in Petersburg, Virginia. That office is open from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday.
There is also a regional office in Pennsylvania at 610 Old York Rd., Suite 400, in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. It’s open from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday.
You can also get information and assistance by emailing or calling the Program Call Center. The email is email@example.com, and the phone number is 1-800-721-0970. Calls are answered from 8am Eastern Time to 8pm Pacific Time every day except holidays.
You do not need a lawyer to apply for assistance. No attorneys’ fees will be paid to applicants or their counsel by USDA or by any other U.S. agency or department. The amount of financial assistance will not be increased for those claimants who are represented by an attorney. For more information about possible scams, read the USDA’s fact sheet about ways to protect against possible scams.
What happens after I apply?
Once all of the applications are submitted, they will be reviewed to determine the number of qualified applicants and how much each applicant will receive in assistance. The USDA has said that payments will be issued “soon” after all of the applications have been reviewed. This is not a first come, first serve process. All applications that are received or postmarked before the October 31st deadline will be reviewed and considered.
Remember, the available funding is capped at $2.2 billion. So, if the total amount requested from eligible applicants is more than $2.2 billion, then applicants might receive a prorated amount of assistance so that everyone can receive some assistance. Payments for approved applications will be delivered early next calendar year by check through the U.S. mail.