Sign-up begins April 15 for USDA disaster assistance programs

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 -- Farmers and ranchers can sign-up for livestock disaster assistance programs that were reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 farm bill starting April 15, USDA said.

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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, including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The LIP program especially will help ranchers in South Dakota and eastern Wyoming who lost tens of thousands of cattle in a surprise early October blizzard.

“These programs will provide long-awaited disaster relief for many livestock producers who have endured significant financial hardship from weather-related disasters while the programs were expired and awaiting Congressional action,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “President Obama and I prioritized the implementation of these disaster assistance programs now that the farm bill has restored and strengthened them.”

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). 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.

David Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said the NPC has asked USDA to use some of the $20 million earmarked under ELAP for this fiscal year to compensate hog producers who have suffered losses to the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, which has killed millions of piglet since the disease first surfaced in the U.S. a year ago. To qualify, a producer's adjusted gross income needs to be less than $900,000, so the program would benefit mostly “smaller” farmers, Warner said.

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

 LFP provides compensation to producers for grazing losses due to drought or fire on publicly managed land. An eligible l"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

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

To expedite applications, producers should collect records documenting losses in preparation for enrollment in the assistance programs. Local Farm Service Agency offices can provide information on the types of records needed.

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