Texas livestock producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office immediately if they have livestock, forage, or feed losses from either ongoing drought or the devastating winter storm Goliath.
Assistance is available through three programs, the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP)—disaster programs included in the Agriculture Act of 2014.
Farmers who think they may qualify for LFP assistance need to hurry, says Texas State FSA Director Judith Canales. “Deadline is Feb. 1. We have 174 counties in Texas with drought-related losses in 2015,” Canales says. Livestock producers who lost forage because of drought last year should contact their FSA office and make an appointment and get documentation in order.
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“Even though we had more moisture last year, we still have 174 counties designated in drought status at some time during the year,” she adds. “And many continue to recover from the 2011 through 2014 drought. The LFP program is available to compensate for grazing losses due to drought.
“Some livestock producers may not be aware of the deadline,” Canales says. “They need to get in and apply by Feb. 1.”
She says producers should gather any documentation they have to prove losses. “Additional expenses such as added cost for feed, lost grazing on small grain plantings, native pasture, improved pasture, native ryegrass and sorghum may qualify,” she says.
The winter storm Goliath that hit the Texas Panhandle during a week-long stretch from Dec. 26, 2015, to Jan. 1, 2016, also resulted in heavy livestock loss. Deadline to file for assistance under the Livestock Indemnity Program is not as pressing, Canales says, but is getting close to the 30-day reporting time.
“Check with the local FSA office in person or by phone to report losses,” she recommends. Heavy losses to dairy cattle, stocker cattle and cow/calf operations have been reported across the Texas Panhandle and into Eastern New Mexico.
“Producers need to be putting together livestock loss numbers. Determine initial inventories and see where they are now. And provide any available documentation, including third-party reports, photographs or video,” Canales suggests.
LIP provides assistance for livestock death losses due to disaster “in excess of normal mortality,” Canales says. “The first step is to contact the FAS office.”
Livestock producers also may qualify for assistance from the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP), which covers losses due to feed or water shortages due to disaster. Mechanically harvested feed losses also qualify, Canales says.
“These are new programs, included in the last farm bill,” she adds, “so some producers may not be aware of the deadlines. We want to make certain they know what is available.”