By Patti Finke
Special to The SUN
Colorado Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Leland Swenson is encouraging all Colorado livestock producers who have suffered eligible disaster-related losses to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to secure assistance by Sept. 30. After Sept. 30, congressionally mandated payment reductions will take place for producers who have not acted before that date.
Swenson stated, “In just four months, the Colorado Farm Service Agency local offices have assisted over 3,800 livestock producers and distributed more than sixty-eight million dollars in disaster benefits. These dollars have been critical for producers looking to recover from the multi-year drought, rebuild their herds and pay off debts.”
Livestock producers that have experienced grazing losses since October 2011 and may be eligible for benefits, but have not yet contacted their local FSA office, should do so as soon as possible.
The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 requires the USDA to implement reductions of 7.3 percent to the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. However, producers seeking LFP support who have scheduled appointments with their local FSA office before Oct. 1, even if the appointment occurs after Oct.1, will not see reductions in the amount of disaster relief they receive.
The USDA is encouraging producers to register, request an appointment or begin a Livestock Forage Disaster Program application with their county FSA office before Oct. 1 to lock in the current zero percent sequestration rate. As an additional aid to qualified producers applying for LFP, the FSA 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.
Producers who already contacted the county office and have an appointment scheduled need do nothing more.
The Livestock Indemnity Program, the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) frost freeze payments will also be cut by 7.3 percent on Oct. 1. Unlike the LFP, applications for these programs must be fully completed by Sept. 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 LFP compensates eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire between Oct. 1, 2011, and Dec. 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 NAP to be eligible for LFP assistance.