WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2014— Several senators led by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to implement the livestock disaster assistance programs reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill as soon as possible.

The senators noted that in 2012, U.S. grazing livestock producers experienced the greatest loss of pasture, rangeland, and forage in decades due to the widespread drought, and in October 2013 an unexpected early fall blizzard killed more than 20,000 cattle, sheep, horses and bison in North and South Dakota and Nebraska. The storm left many livestock producers with less than 50 percent of their livestock herds surviving, the noted. 

“Due to the magnitude of pasture, forage, and livestock losses and the urgent need for financial assistance these losses have created, we strongly urge you to place implementation of 2014 Farm Bill livestock disaster programs as a top priority,” the senators state in the letter.

They asked that Vilsack update them with the current status of the farm bill’s Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) implementation as well as the timeframe for policy and software development, rulemaking, signup, and issuance of payments by February 14.

The following senators signed the letter in addition to Thune and Heitkamp: Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).


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