Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo., requested immediate action recently from Secretary of Agriculture Michael Johanns to fix delays that are stalling assistance payments to Wyoming livestock producers suffering from grazing losses of past years.
Thomas, Enzi and three other Western senators expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of compensation under the Livestock Assistance Program (LAP) and the American Indian Livestock Feed Program (AILFP) in a July 20 letter to Johanns. Program payments for eligible weather-related grazing losses during 2003 and 2004 have yet to be made due to a lack of necessary software in county branches of the Farm Service Agency.
“We’ve worked hard to get this assistance put in place. This is an unnecessary delay of payments to our ranchers. I don’t know a cow out there who cares whether the USDA is having software installed – all they know is that they need to eat – and ranchers need assistance,”Thomas said.
“There are livestock producers in Wyoming counting on these payments to make ends meet. They were supposed to have this money over 10 months ago and I am disappointed that the hold-up has come down to something as simple as this software problem,” said Enzi, who urged Wyoming producers to apply for the programs to help them in times of drought. “This affects peoples’ lives. In our letter to Johanns we highlighted the negative impact the delays have on Wyoming agriculture. We hope to see these glitches ironed out quickly,” said Enzi.
The LAP is a grazing loss program that pays eligible livestock producers for grazing losses on a per head basis of eligible livestock. The AILFP provides direct reimbursement of expenses for purchases of livestock feed to producers whose livestock were on tribal-governed land at the time of a natural disaster.
The copy of the letter can be accessed at enzi.senate.gov and thomas.senate.gov.