In an effort to improve the livestock disaster assistance programs to better meet the needs of producers facing severe drought and other natural disasters, Senator John Hoeven, R-ND, and Senator Jon Tester, D-MT., introduced the Livestock Disaster Relief Act to improve the Livestock Forage Program and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program.
“Our livestock producers are facing real challenges during this drought,” says Hoeven, who also serves as the ranking member of the subcommittee on agricultural appropriations. “Our bipartisan legislation makes common sense improvements to the Livestock Forage and Emergency Livestock Assistance Programs to better meet the needs on the ground. Our ranchers are really up against it and this bipartisan legislation is about doing all we can to help them through this severe weather.”
Specifically, the legislation better aligns coverage between the Livestock Forage Program and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program; increases producer assistance under LFP to more accurately compensate them for feed costs; specifies transportation costs for feed and water as covered losses under ELAP; and makes these program improvements permanent.
“We are experiencing a devastating drought that has touched every corner of Montana and put a real hurt on livestock producers in our state,” adds Tester. “This bipartisan bill will beef up critical livestock disaster programs, providing additional certainty so Montana ranchers can weather this year’s drought and emerge whole on the other side of this crisis.”
This legislation follows Hoeven’s efforts to help farmers and ranchers weather the severe drought conditions impacting much of the state. This includes the disaster assistance in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 22 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in early August.
Hoeven met with North Dakota farmers and ranchers Aug. 13 to outline his efforts to advance both immediate and long-term assistance to help farmers and ranchers weather the severe drought conditions impacting the state.
Specifically, the Senate’s appropriations bill includes $6.28 billion in disaster assistance to aid producers who suffered losses due to droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other qualifying disasters. The funding will extend the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus to cover losses in calendar years 2020 and 2021.
The Senate’s bill also includes $750 million for livestock producers for losses incurred during 2021 due to drought or wildfire. This disaster assistance will build on top of existing farm bill programs for livestock producers.
Hoeven also helped secure emergency procedures and new flexibilities from the Risk Management Agency for crop insurance providers to help ensure quick and fair adjustments and payments to producers.
Hoeven pressed for this flexibility during his recent drought tour with RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy, and it comes as part of the senator’s efforts to help producers weather severe drought conditions in North Dakota.
“Providing flexibility to farmers when utilizing cover crops, which provide an additional source of feed for livestock producers,” a statement from Hoeven’s office explains.
Following Flournoy’s visit to North Dakota, RMA announced it will allow producers to hay, graze or chop cover crops on prevented plant acres at any time while still receiving their full crop insurance indemnity.