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Indian farmers have week to file claims

American Indian farmers and ranchers have less than a week left to file a claim in the Keepseagle class action settlement. The deadline for filing is Tuesday, Dec. 27.

"Native American farmers and ranchers who believe they are entitled to funds under the Keepseagle settlement must file a claim before the Dec. 27 deadline 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.

Keepseagle vs. 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.

The filing period opened June 29 and continues for 180 days, until Dec. 27.

Up to $760 million will be made available in monetary relief, debt relief, and tax relief to successful claimants.

Keepseagle class counsel will hold a meeting in Bismarck, N.D., Dec. 22 to provide assistance to help Track A claimants fill out a claims package.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the Lower Level Jack Barden Center, 3315 University Drive, Bismarck.

Claimant services representatives can also be reached through calling 888-233-5506. Claimants must register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website and the claims package will be mailed to claimants.