Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sign-up for livestock disaster aid now under way

Disaster payments for grazing livestock producers are on the way.  Farmers, with weather losses back to 2011 can sign up at USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices now. 

Congressional passage of the 2014 farm bill reinstates disaster assistance and makes them permanent.   They are also retroactive, so farmers with weather related losses of forage or animals any time after Oct 1, 2011 may be eligible for payments. 

Under the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), farmers can be partially paid for feed cost during the drought.  The number of monthly payments a county can receive depends on the intensity of weather as recorded on the U.S. drought monitor.  A tool to determine FSA eligibility is available online at  FSA staff will figure the loss value based on head of livestock and pasture acres they have on file for the farm unit.
A second program, Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), covers farms with livestock deaths in excess of normal due to an adverse weather event. Eligible livestock include beef and dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, goats, swine, horses, and others.

Farmers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office about these programs and begin compiling their records.  More information on disaster assistance is available at  or your local FSA office. 

"We implemented these programs in record time," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

 Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more. Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

 Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

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