The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes the emergency actions U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday to provide assistance to the farm and ranch families suffering from the drought. For many farmers and ranchers – Farm Bureau says USDA’s actions will result in immediate flexibility in the nation’s major conservation programs – helping to provide crucial assistance to hard-hit livestock producers. But the group says there are areas of the nation that may require expedited assistance due to established grazing prohibitions. Farm Bureau says these prohibitions would prevent grazing until the nutritional value of the grazing plants has totally been diminished by the drought.
Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the drought has reached crisis proportions in certain parts of the country. He says Farm Bureau appreciates the responsiveness and understanding exhibited by Secretary Vilsack during this drought-related emergency. The group is also hopeful – he says – that Vilsack will consider additional action for specific parts of the country where additional grazing prohibitions are in place.
Stallman notes a record 54-percent of pasture and rangeland is in poor or very poor conditions. As available feeding and grazing land is becoming depleted – feed prices are rising – and some farmers and ranchers have begun to liquidate their livestock herds.
No Direct Word from Crop Insurance Industry on Secretary’s Request
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is asking the crop insurance industry not to charge farmers interest on delayed premium payments as a result of the ongoing drought. Vilsack says crop insurance premiums are normally due on August 15th – and companies have been providing a grace period until September 30th. Those unable to pay their premiums accrue an interest penalty of 1.25-percent a month – which USDA is encouraging insurance companies to voluntarily forego through November 1st for spring crops. National Crop Insurance Services President Tom Zacharias said in a statement that the crop insurance industry will continue to work hand in hand with its farmer and rancher customers and USDA to ensure the nation’s ag sector survives and bounces back from Mother Nature’s many challenges.
If Farm Bill Doesn’t Move, Emergency Drought Relief Might
In case House leaders stop the 2012 farm bill from moving forward – a group of Senators is looking for a way to pay for emergency drought relief. Montana’s Max Baucus and North Dakota’s Kent Conrad have introduced a bill to provide emergency drought assistance. Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Jon Tester of Montana have signed on as co-sponsors. The action of the full Senate reportedly depends on Conrad and Baucus coming up with a pay-for – which they’re still working on. The Hill reports there’s currently not much optimism among lobbyists and aides that the House farm bill will move. If the legislation remains blocked – it’s expected a disaster relief companion will be introduced in the House soon.
Source: NAFB News Service