WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., wants Wyoming cattle and sheep producers to know they can sleep better at night now that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released long-awaited details on a livestock disaster program. The program assists ranchers in the event of severe losses to their herds due to natural disasters.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday that eligible ranchers and livestock producers can begin applying for the benefits of the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) on July 13. Eligibility is given to those suffering a loss in excess of thirty percent of their total herd.
The program, sponsored by Max Baucus, D-Mont., and supported by Enzi, was enacted into law in the 2008 Farm Bill. The program allows the federal government to plan ahead for weather-related disasters to ensure that ranchers with excessive weather-related losses receive assistance in a timely manner.
“It’s common sense to have disaster assistance built into the budget,” Enzi said. “We know that disasters will occur and, in the past, Congress has used emergency spending bills to pay for agricultural disasters. As the only accountant in the Senate, I can tell you that using ad hoc spending bills to pay for disasters is fiscally irresponsible.”
Previously, farmers and ranchers waited up to several years to receive assistance for agricultural disasters. The program creates a disaster trust fund through 2011 that would finance five programs to comprehensively address agricultural disasters across the nation.
“Creating a disaster fund is just the same as a family starting a rainy day savings account and this effort will make disaster assistance to producers more reliable. In addition to saving money to pay for disasters, the program will also work to make the Livestock Indemnity Program permanent and offer producers another risk management option should floods, blizzards, fire, excessive heat or other weather-related events threaten their operations,” Enzi said.
The Livestock Indemnity Program is one of five permanent Farm Service Agency administered agriculture disaster assistance programs that will be made available through the Agricultural Disaster Trust Fund. Eligible ranchers can receive up to 75 percent of the value of their lost animals. Producers interested in the new program should contact their local Farm Service Agency office for additional details.