BATON ROUGE, LA — The Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section is urging farmers to be wary of individuals or organizations offering assistance in filing claims in the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation involving the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“There are individuals and organizations who may be holding meetings and charging a fee to help black farmers file claims and participate in lawsuits when the deadline to file a claim for the settlement was May 11, 2012, more than one year ago,” said Sam Pleasant, Director of the Attorney General’s Public Protection Division.
The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office has also issued a warning to consumers about groups fraudulently offering to help black farmers. “We haven’t received any reports of this happening in Louisiana — yet,” added Pleasant, “but Mississippi has received reports that the scammers are at work there. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell wants us to make sure that Louisiana residents are aware of this scam so that citizens will be less likely to be taken advantage of if these people pack their bags and come over here to try and scam farmers in our state.”
Federal courts gave final approval to the settlement on October 27, 2011, providing more than $1 billion to settle claims by African American farmers that the USDA discriminated against them based on race, wrongfully denied them farm loans, loan servicing and other benefits, or by giving them loans with unfair terms between 1981 and 1996.
To report a scam or file a complaint, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889 or online at www.agbuddycaldwell.com.