Livestock producers reminded to enroll in forage disaster program by Sept. 30 | TSLN.com

Livestock producers reminded to enroll in forage disaster program by Sept. 30

Bruce Nelson
Montana FSA Executive Director

USDA Montana FSA Guest Editorial: Livestock Producers Reminded to Enroll in Livestock Forage Disaster Program by Sept. 30th

Editorial by Bruce Nelson, USDA Farm Service Agency state executive director in Montana

Since late 2011, Montana livestock producers have endured weather disasters such as historic droughts, blizzards, floods and fires, awaiting Congressional enactment of a farm bill so that disaster assistance programs could resume.

When the 2014 Farm Bill was enacted into law this February, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ensured that disaster programs were restarted in sixty days, by April 15, nearly eighty percent faster than our predecessors.

Five months later, USDA Farm Service Agency has approved more than 250,000 applications seeking assistance, exceeding Congressional estimates, and more applications are expected. To address demand, FSA has reassigned field employees, with many working overtime and weekends, so that livestock producers get the help they need and deserve. Agriculture doesn't stand still, and neither does USDA.

If you've suffered livestock forage or feed grazing losses in 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) may offer help. For ranchers who have not contacted FSA by September 30, 2014, the Budget Control Act of 2011 passed by Congress requires USDA to reduce LFP payments by 7.3 percent beginning October 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.

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If you've already registered with your FSA office for LFP assistance, or have an appointment scheduled, you are not subject to the payment reduction. If you haven't yet contacted your local FSA office, please register, request an appointment, or begin an LFP application with your county FSA office by September 30, 2014. You can also register online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster-register.

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program compensates for grazing losses due to drought or fire. Eligible livestock includes alpacas, beef cattle, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep or swine that have been or would have been grazing the eligible grazing land or pastureland.

If you are seeking help from other programs like the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Tree Assistance Program, or the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), you'll need to complete your full application before September 30, 2014. Contact your local FSA office for more information.

(Bruce Nelson, a fourth-generation Montanan and wheat farmer, serves as state executive director of the USDA Montana Farm Service Agency. He can be reached at 406.587.6872 or bruce.nelson@mt.usda.gov. For more information regarding FSA programs, contact your local FSA office at or visit the state FSA Web site at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/mt.) F