USDA Announces Livestock Disaster Signup Begins in April

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced its plans to have the Livestock Disaster Programs reauthorized in the recently-passed Farm Bill available for sign up in 60 days. The announcement comes after Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Farm Bill conference committee that negotiated the final Farm Bill, joined with a bipartisan coalition of senators to urge USDA to expedite implementation of the disaster programs.

“These livestock disaster programs are critical to ranchers across Colorado, especially in the southeast part of the state where they are battling conditions we haven’t seen since the Dust Bowl,” Bennet said. “Producers are facing stubbornly persistent drought and feed shortages and are having to liquidate or relocate their livestock. These disaster programs will help them through these tough times and aid them in planning for the future.”

Last week, Bennet joined a bipartisan group of senators to urge USDA to quickly implement the Farm Bill’s livestock disaster programs. Following the 2008 Farm Bill, it took over a year to roll out the programs. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the senators wrote, “Due to the magnitude of pasture, forage, and livestock losses and the urgent need for financial assistance these losses have created, we strongly urge you to place implementation of 2014 Farm Bill livestock disaster programs as a top priority. Considering the similarities of the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bill LIP and LFP, it is our expectation and request that USDA implement these programs within a much shorter timeframe than it did after passage of the 2008 Farm Bill.”

The livestock disaster programs are a key part of the recently-passed Farm Bill to help ranchers incurring losses due to severe weather. In addition to losses experienced in 2014, producers will also be able to sign up for assistance to help with losses from 2012 and 2013. Livestock disaster programs from the 2008 Farm Bill expired in September 2011.

Bennet helped craft the Farm Bill as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Farm Bill conference committee. In addition to pushing for reauthorization of the livestock disaster programs, Bennet was instrumental in revamping the conservation title, securing key forest health measures, and including a one-year extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program that is critical for Colorado’s rural counties.