Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, September 20 2012 at 3:55 PM, Updated: Thu, September 20 2012 at 4:06 PM
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it wants to mend fences with Hispanic and female farmers who may have been discriminated against.
Gail Lennon is a farmer and rancher from the Lookout, California area...and she has a beef with the U.S.D.A. over a loan.
"They made a mistake of $17,000, which was quite a bit. And that was during the time when all of the women farmers, and farmers were being foreclosed upon."
State Director Vicki Walker of U.S.D.A. Rural Development says the Department of Agriculture is now making more than a billion dollars available to those who may have been denied loans or credit benefits between 1981 and 2000...
"We are opening a claims process for women or Hispanic farmers, they may be both, who feel they may have been discriminated against."
Lennon says she's worked as an advocate for other farmers in the past...
"And I saved a lot of male farmers. But female farmers are a little different, and we don't like being treated differently."
Walker notes that the claims process was sparked by civil rights violation allegations made by African American and Native American farmers...
"And then the U.S.D.A. learned that there were potential claims also with women or Hispanic farmers."
Gail Lennon hopes that her claim will be settled soon. "I want to get it all over with. This has been going on for 30 years."
Women and Hispanic farmers who feel they may have been discriminated against by the U.S.D.A. can go to: www.farmerclaims.gov for more information. Claims must be filed by March 25th, 2013.
Those with successful claims could receive up to a quarter of a million dollars in cash.
The U.S.D.A. will also provide debt relief to successful claimants who are currently paying off farm loans.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.