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On July 7, 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the opening of the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program (DFAP). This program, established through Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act, provides $2.2 billion in financial assistance to eligible farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending prior to January 2021.
Stakeholders and program administrators, along with USDA officials, are conducting community outreach to raise awareness about the program. When the program opened, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack affirmed the Department’s commitment to providing financial assistance to those who faced discrimination in USDA farm lending as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
Originally due on Oct. 31, 2023, applications may now be submitted through Jan. 13, 2024, in response to valuable feedback.
"The extension of the DFAP application deadline to January 13, 2024, is a crucial step in ensuring that farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners receive the support they need. We want to stress that the application is free to submit, and free technical assistance is available to help people through the process," said Myles B. Caggins III, Eastern Region spokesman for the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program and Windsor Group LLC. "Whether it's at local events or by visiting our Georgia state office, our dedicated team is here to guide you and answer questions."
The Georgia office has collaborated with the Fort Valley State University's Cooperative Extension Program and is conducting outreach events across the state.
Farmers are encouraged to call 1-800-721-0970 to make an appointment with Windsor Group LLC's local outreach office for the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program. Windsor Group LLC has teams in Huntsville and Montgomery, Alabama, as well as Decatur, Georgia.
The Inflation Reduction Act specifies that the Secretary of Agriculture is responsible for providing this financial assistance through qualified nongovernmental entities, under standards set by USDA. The official program administrators are Midtown Group, which serves as the National Administrator for the program; Windsor Group LLC which is responsible for outreach and assistance in states east of the Mississippi River including Alabama and Georgia, and Analytic Acquisitions, which serves states West of the Mississippi River.
According to Caggins, Windsor Group is working to combat predatory lawyers attempting to coerce farmers into signing away part of the financial assistance by charging filing fees.
“We make the emphasis that the technical assistance provided is free,” Caggins said. “In the history of discrimination, there have been class action suits, where… attorneys have come in and helped people file to be part of those suits. And some of the arrangements have just taken so much money from the farmers.”
Caggins emphasized that Windsor Group LLC is a woman-owned, veteran-owned, disabled-owned small business, focusing primarily on government solutions or government staffing.
Producers have the option to apply via the e-filing portal at 22007apply.gov or by submitting paper-based forms via mail or in-person delivery to the program’s local offices. English- and Spanish-language applications are available.
Technical assistance is available for potential applicants through four regional hubs working closely with community-based organizations to conduct extensive outreach using digital and grassroots strategies. This ensures that potential applicants are informed about the program and understand how to complete the application. Additionally, local events and brick-and-mortar offices are part of a comprehensive outreach process designed to provide farmers and ranchers with multiple options for gaining assistance at no cost.
For more information about DFAP, visit the official website at 22007apply.gov. Additionally, the website provides comprehensive information on obtaining in-person or virtual technical assistance, supplementary program resources, and detailed program guidelines. The program also offers a call center, (800) 721-0970, which is open from 8 a.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week, except for Federal holidays. The call center has English and Spanish-speaking agents.