Livestock Disaster Relief Act introduced
By: Sydney Sheffield
The Livestock Disaster Relief Act was recently introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and John Hoeven (R-ND). The bipartisan bill would improve the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program (ELAP) to better meet the needs of ranchers impacted by natural disasters.
“As a third-generation farmer, I know firsthand how challenging it can be for Montanans when disasters like drought or winter storms strike,” said Senator Tester. “That’s why I’m proud to team up with Senator Hoeven on this bipartisan bill to ensure that Montana ranchers receive the relief they need to respond to future disasters so that they can continue to raise the best cattle in the world.”
LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock and who are also producers of grazed forage crop acreage of native and improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or acreage planted specifically for grazing. LFP also provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have covered livestock and who are also producers of grazed forage crop acreage on rangeland managed by a federal agency if the eligible livestock producer is prohibited by the federal agency from grazing the normal permitted livestock on the managed rangeland due to a qualifying fire.
ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events, or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, such as losses not covered by LFP and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).
Currently, the two programs provide financial assistance for producers in the wake of natural disasters. The Senators believe the Livestock Disaster Relief Act would improve the existing programs. Under their proposal, coverage between LFP and ELAP would be better aligned. These changes would be permanent.
Specifically, the Livestock Disaster Relief Act would modify the 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. Additionally, the bill would make changes to the ELAP, by specifying drought as a covered adverse weather event, removing restrictions on types of covered losses and disasters, and specifying transportation costs for feed and water as a covered loss.
“Our legislation makes common-sense improvements to the Livestock Forage and Emergency Assistance for Livestock Programs to help better meet the needs of our livestock producers when disaster strikes,” said Senator Hoeven.