More money is on the way for producers who previously sought assistance through Department of Agriculture programs to help feed their livestock after suffering through inclement weather in 2021.

USDA on Thursday announced the Emergency Livestock Relief Program and its plans to distribute funding through the first phase of the program in the next few days.

The first wave of funding will distribute an estimated $670 million in response to more than 100,000 applications that have already been submitted to USDA for help through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

“Producers of grazing livestock experienced catastrophic losses of available forage as well as higher costs for supplemental feed in 2021. Unfortunately, the conditions driving these losses have not improved for many and have even worsened for some, as drought spreads across the U.S.,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

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Gloria Montaño Greene, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for farm production and conservation, tells Agri-Pulse all producers will receive at least 75% of their original payment while historically underserved groups – including beginning farmers, limited resource operators, and veteran farmers and ranchers – will receive 90%.

Thursday’s announcement stems from a $750 million investment from Congress to mitigate the impacts of disasters on producers. Montaño Greene said the program would be nationwide, but expected Western and Great Plains states to receive the bulk of the funding. All told, areas that were in a D2 drought status for eight weeks or more of 2021 or that were ever in a D3 status will be eligible.

She said the second phase of the program can be expected later this year. That announcement, she said, would follow the first phase of upcoming row crop relief – the Emergency Relief Program –  which USDA said in a release will be based on existing crop insurance program data.

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