Janie Hipp, senior adviser to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for tribal relations reminded Native American farmers and ranchers that the period to file a claim in the Keepseagle class action settlement remains open through Dec. 27, 2011.

"Native American farmers and ranchers who believe they are entitled to funds under the Keepseagle settlement must file a claim on or before Dec. 27 in order to file a claim," says Hipp. "Tribal leaders should 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. Claims meetings are still occurring and individuals can also call the toll-free number and get assistance with filing."

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.

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