Farmers and agriculture-related businesses in much of the Southeast and Mid-South are eligible to be a part of the settlement stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Billions of dollars are available to those whose businesses suffered due to the spill.

Attorneys and claims adjusters working with settlement claims say too few residents in eligible states know they can sign up.

“In Mississippi, particularly the Delta region, we’re in Zone D for purposes of the settlement,” says John Daniels, an attorney in Greenville, Miss. “Farmers – actually, any eligible businessperson in the region – really need to strongly consider looking into this.”

One claims adjuster tells Farm Press that farming clients have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in the settlement.

Read settlement details here.

On March 5, a decision came down from the U.S. Eastern District Court of Louisiana concerning a review of the settlement agreement and how it applies, particularly to farmers, and how to match revenues to expenses.

How quickly have the farmers Daniels represents gotten relief? If they file tomorrow, will it be a year or two before seeing a check?

“Before the end of December, 2012, claims were being processed – at least in my judgment for those that were qualified – rapidly,” says Daniels. “The process has since slowed somewhat as BP has appealed some of the decisions and requests, has asked for a stay of some of the matters related to agriculture.”

That’s one reason the decision from Louisiana’s Eastern District Court is so important, says Daniels. “I think the decision defines and addresses a lot of the issues BP was bringing up. Now, I think the claims process will pick up speed.”

Claimants may have a, “two to six month wait, depending on your claim, how it was submitted, and the back-up information included. It’s better to get everything in together rather than piecemeal. That’s why it’s important to choose a lawyer who has done it before, who knows what they’re doing and can get the entire package in so there won’t be delays due to documentation.”