Livestock producers get drought assistance

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WASHINGTON – The USDA is targeting $752 million for drought and disaster assistance for livestock producers.

Announced Sept. 19, the Livestock Compensation Program will benefit cattle, sheep and buffalo producers in counties that have received primary disaster designation due to drought in 2001 and/or 2002.

Producers in counties that have disaster designation requests pending and are subsequently approved will also be eligible to participate in the program.

Sign up will begin Oct. 1 with payments made soon thereafter.

Ohio, Pa. eligible. The cash assistance will be made available statewide in Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina and Utah.

Assistance will also be available in specified counties in 30 other drought affected states including California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

In Ohio, currently only 22 counties are eligible: Ashland, Ashtabula, Brown, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Fulton, Geauga, Hancock, Holmes, Knox, Lake, Lucas, Mahoning, Medina, Sandusky, Seneca, Stark, Tuscarawas, Wayne, Wood and Wyandot.

“Livestock producers do not have the risk management tools available to them, particularly through crop insurance as many other producers do,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. “And they are the most affected by this drought without any way to get any assistance.”

Livestock producers in drought areas lost $103 million in gross receipts in 2001 and $583 million so far in 2002.

Payment rate. Payments will be based on standard feed consumption data for each eligible type of livestock. The payment rate is $18 per animal consuming unit, which is indexed against beef cattle.

Types of livestock adjusted by these factors are: beef cows $18/head; dairy cows, $31.50/head; stockers, $13.50/head; buffalo and beefalo, $18/head; sheep, $4.50/head.

Document ownership. In general, producers will have to provide necessary information, including documentation of livestock owned as of June 1, 2002. Animals must have been owned for 90 days or more before and/or after June 1.

The program is in addition to other programs available to eligible producers.

“The needs here are so immediate, and this program is uniquely designed to address those immediate needs of the livestock producers,” Veneman said.

“We’ve talked a lot about what if Congress acts or doesn’t act, but the fact of the matter is that even if Congress were to act tomorrow, it would be very difficult to get assistance out to farmers quickly,” she added.

For more information about this program contact your local Farm Service Agency office.

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