Last May, a lightning strike killed 21 cows eating at a metal feeder in McCook County, South Dakota. The loss to the farmer was estimated at $45,000. That’s a figure that would be hard for anyone to swallow, so hopefully this farmer took advantage of programs in the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill designed to support farmers and ranchers through hard times like these. Here are three you should know about.
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) covers 75% of the cost of livestock deaths beyond normal mortality when caused by adverse weather or attacks by animals reintroduced to the wild by the federal government. Covered livestock range from alpacas and reindeer to beef and dairy cattle, poultry, sheep, goats, swine and beefalo/buffalo. The list of covered weather events is long and even includes “vog” which is smoke or haze containing volcanic dust and gases. Some diseases are also covered if they are exacerbated by a weather event. Anthrax, larkspur poisoning and poisoning caused by cyanobacterial algae blooms.
To be eligible for compensation, you must report the loss to your local Farm Services Administration office within 30 days of the death of the livestock and file an application for payment within 90 days of the end of the calendar year in which you experienced the loss. Click here to find your local FSA County office. Download the LIP Factsheet for more details about application requirements and a table showing the 2016 payment rate per head.
Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP)
This program is also administered by the Farm Service Agency and provides assistance for grazing losses due to drought. To qualify for this assistance, you must own the eligible grazing livestock (listed above), that would have been grazing, but cannot because of drought. Drought status is rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor on a county by county basis along a scale that determines how much a farmer or rancher will be compensated:
- D2 is severe drought for at least eight consecutive weeks during the normal grazing period. The farmer is eligilbe to receive assistance equal to one monthly payment.
- D2 is extreme drought and comes with assistance equal to three monthly payments
- D3 is extreme drought for at least four weeks, or rated D4 at any time with assistance equal to four monthly payments
- D4 is exceptional drought for four weeks during the normal grazing period and comes with assistance equal to five monthly payments.
Here’s what monthly payments look like for 2016:
To find out if you are eligible for payments, and how many payments, click on one of the maps below that fit with the kind of forage you are growing in pasture.
Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP)
If the other two programs didn’t help you, maybe this one will. It is supposed to cover losses from disasters like adverse weather or wildfires that weren’t covered by any other disaster program. In addition to all the other covered livestock above, this program covers emus, deer, elk, horses, honey bees and farm-raised fish.
What you might find especially helpful about this program is that it helps pay for the cost of hauling water to livestock if you’re in a D3 rated county. It also helps cover up to 150 days of feed losses, either purchased or forage, as well as the costs of hauling feed to animals, or the cost associated with having to buy more feed due to adverse weather. If your pastures are burned over by a wildfire, this program will reimburse you for a portion of the feed cost to replace the forage, or for grazing lost due to the fire. Last but not least, if you have to round up your cattle and bring them in to treat them for cattle tick fever, this program will assist you with covering those additional costs. Download the ELAP Disaster Assistance Fact Sheet to learn more about how this program could serve you.
FSA Is Here to Help!
Yes, there is fine print with all of these programs, and there will be paperwork. But they are here to serve as a safety net so that you can continue to put good food on your communities’ tables. If you’re in a tight place because of a disaster beyond your control, reach out to your local Farm Service Agency office and see what they can offer.