September 27, 2021

Livestock Disaster Relief Act Introduced

Livestock Disaster Relief Act Introduced

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The Livestock Disaster Relief Act was recently introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). The bipartisan bill will improve the Livestock Forage Program and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program to better meet the needs of producers facing severe drought and other natural disasters. 

"We are experiencing a devastating drought that has touched every corner of Montana and put a real hurt on livestock producers in our state," said Tester in a press release. "This bipartisan bill will beef up critical livestock disaster programs, providing additional certainty so Montana ranchers can better weather disasters and emerge whole on the other side."

The bill will make changes to the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) by increasing coverage for monthly feed costs to 80 percent, including unweaned cattle in eligible livestock, increasing the number of months a producer can receive payments, and improving the formula used to calculate monthly feed costs. It will adjust the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) by specifying drought as a covered adverse weather event, removing restrictions on types of covered losses and disasters, and identifying transportation costs for feed and water as a covered loss.

Shortly after the announcement of this bill, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it modified the ELAP to expand assistance to cover feed transportation costs for ranchers hit by the historic drought. “I am glad USDA adopted a provision of my bipartisan plan to provide additional relief to folks who need it, and I will continue pushing aggressively to make sure this critical relief gets out the door and into the hands of folks who need it as quickly as possible,” Tester stated

“USDA is currently determining how our disaster assistance programs can best help alleviate the significant economic, physical and emotional strain agriculture producers are experiencing due to drought conditions,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The duration and intensity of current drought conditions are merciless, and the impacts of this summer’s drought will be felt by producers for months to come. Today’s announcement is to provide relief as ranchers make fall and winter herd management decisions.”

Previously, ELAP only compensated producers for the cost of hauling water. This new ELAP coverage will supplement the LFP, which provides payments to producers for the cost of hay. The deadline to apply for the payment for the 2021 program year is January 31, 2022.

“Our producers have faced severe challenges due to the drought this year and that includes increased feed transportation costs,” said Hoeven. “After hosting FSA Administrator Ducheneaux in North Dakota to hear directly from our farmers and ranchers, we worked with the Administrator to expand ELAP to help cover producers’ feed transportation costs. This is much-needed assistance and is an important tool in helping our producers weather this drought.”