Considerations for Tribal Producers
Discriminatory experiences at USDA are not new to Tribal producers. While the settlement reached in Keepseagle v. Vilsack was intended to address some of these experiences, it did not resolve all discrimination claims and discriminatory actions once and for all. In August 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a provision for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who have experienced discrimination through USDA farm lending programs.
As USDA gets closer to opening the discrimination claims process authorized by Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act, it is a particularly relevant time to share information and lessons learned from previous claims processes. If you are exploring your options in pursuing Section 22007 discrimination claims, please beware of:
Law firms, organizations, and other entities or individuals offering to help you navigate the claims process for a fee or in exchange for a percentage of any potential settlement.
Law firms have already begun reaching out to potential claimants. We do not yet know what the claims process will look like, but signing a contingency or other type of agreement that promises money in exchange for representation in a Section 22007 claim can result in a legally binding agreement, even if the process does not require legal assistance. In prior claims processes, producers could complete the process themselves, or with the free help of organizations that agreed to assist producers in compiling their claims.
If you are contacted by a law firm, organization, or some other entity or individual offering to help you with your section 22007 discrimination claim in exchange for a fee and have questions about whether such help for pay is necessary, please contact Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IAC will circulate additional information about the Section 22007 claims process as we receive it.