Livestock assistance on the way

FSA's Juan Garcia said county and state field offices ready for April 15 start of disaster assistance sign-ups.

“Help is on the way for farmers and ranchers,” was the message Farm Service Agency Juan Garcia said regarding the livestock disaster programs which the agency officially announced will start sign-ups April 15.

Tasked with the mission from President Barack Obama of providing the disaster relief in 60 days following farm bill passage, FSA has delivered on that promise as it officially announced the sign-ups would indeed come next week for producers who have experienced losses in 2011-14 due to disasters.

Garcia told Feedstuffs that fortunately the agency had the infrastructure and software in place to allow for the swift implementation of the relief that is so vital to producers impacted from disasters ranging from droughts to the thousands of livestock lost in the Atlas blizzard last year.

“If we would have had to start from scratch and develop new software, we wouldn’t be in the place we are right now,” Garcia said. The previous farm bill included disaster provisions which expired in 2011, but provided the framework for the tweaks made in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Garcia reported that field teams consisting of employees from different states worked together to develop the regulations which will be formally published in the Federal Register soon.

He also shared that field state training occurred last week and this week states are conducting their field training with county employees.

The forms and software are ready to go and all that’s left to be done is to flip the switch April 15, he states. Counties are already taking appointments and FSA has been urging producers to collect records documenting losses to help move along the filing process.

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) 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.

Enrollment also begins on April 15 for producers with losses covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible livestock includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, swine, horses, and other livestock as determined by the Secretary.

LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on publicly managed land. An eligible livestock producer must own, cash lease, or be a contract grower of eligible livestock during the 60 calendar days before the beginning date of the qualifying drought or fire in a county that is rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as D2, D3, or D4.

ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.

TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

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