We have not heard the term sequestration for a while, but the across the board cuts in government programs will kick in October 1. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is urging livestock producers to act quickly to avoid seeing their benefits cut, “The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 requires USDA to implement reductions of 7.3 percent to the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) in the new fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2014. However, producers seeking LFP support who have scheduled appointments with their local FSA office before October 1, even if the appointment occurs after October 1, will not see reductions in the amount of disaster relief they receive.”
USDA is encouraging producers to register, request an appointment, or begin a Livestock Forage Disaster Program application with their county FSA office before October 1, 2014, to lock in the current zero percent sequestration rate. As an additional aid to qualified producers applying for LFP, the Farm Service Agency has developed an online registration that enables farmers and ranchers to put their names on an electronic list before the deadline to avoid reductions in their disaster assistance. This is an alternative to visiting or contacting the county office. To place a name on the Livestock Forage Disaster Program list online, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster-register.
Vilsack said the disaster programs have been a great success but the next few days are your last chance to get the full benefits of the program, “In just four months since disaster assistance enrollments began, we’ve processed 240,000 applications to help farmers and ranchers who suffered losses. Eligible producers who have not yet contacted their local FSA office should stop by or call their local FSA office, or sign up online before October 1 when Congressionally mandated payment reductions take effect. This will ensure they receive as much financial assistance as possible.”
An even tighter deadline applies to those who want to claim losses of livestock and other disaster programs. The Livestock Indemnity Program, the Tree Assistance Program, and the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program Frost Freeze payments will also be cut by 7.3 percent on October 1, 2014. Unlike the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, applications for these programs must be fully completed by September 30. FSA offices will prioritize these applications; but, as the full application process can take several days or more to complete, producers are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Program compensates eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire between October 1, 2011 and December 31, 2014. Eligible livestock includes alpacas, beef cattle, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep, or swine that have been or would have been grazing the eligible grazing land or pastureland. Producers forced to liquidate their livestock may also be eligible for program benefits. Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill eliminated the risk management purchase requirement. Livestock producers are no longer required to purchase coverage under the federal crop insurance program or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to be eligible for Livestock Forage Disaster Program assistance.