Help Available for Livestock Death Losses Due to Blizzard

by Colter Brown

April blizzards may bring May flowers, but blizzards can also cause newborn calves and other livestock to become smothered, trampled and die due to the conditions created by adverse weather. These death losses can create an emotional and financial burden for livestock producers.

North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension specialists encourage ranchers to inquire about the Livestock Indemnity Program provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“The Livestock Indemnity Program provides benefits to agricultural producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather, disease or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government,” says Karl Hoppe, NDSU Extension livestock systems specialist at the Carrington Research Extension Center. “Eligible weather events include earthquake, hail, lightning, tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, wildfire, extreme heat, extreme cold, straight-line winds, and eligible winter storms.”

The Livestock Indemnity Program applies to the loss of cattle, poultry, swine, sheep, horses, goats, bison and other eligible livestock.

A fact sheet for the livestock indemnity program is available on the FSA website. Search “FSA Livestock Indemnity Program.”

The fact sheet provides what is eligible livestock, eligible loss conditions, payment rates, how to file for the Livestock Indemnity Program and loss documentation.

“Ranchers must file a notice of loss with FSA within 30 days of when the loss is apparent,” says Hoppe. “They also must file an application for payment no later than 60 calendar days after the end of the calendar year in which the eligible loss occurred.”

The Livestock Indemnity Program requires a deduction for normal mortality and these need to be documented, he adds. These normal mortalities do not have to be weather related.

The occurrence of an eligible loss condition in and by itself – does not determine eligibility for eligible livestock losses. The livestock owner or contract grower must provide evidence acceptable to FSA that the eligible cause of loss not only occurred but directly caused loss or death.

LIP payments for owners are based on national payment rates that are 75 percent of the market value of the applicable livestock as determined by the USDA’s Secretary of Agriculture.

The normal morality rates for cattle in North Dakota are:

  • Calves weighing less than 400 pounds ‐ 4.6%
  • Calves weighing 400 to 799 pounds ‐ 1.5%
  • Calves weighing 800 pounds or more ‐ 1%
  • Adult cows ‐ 1.6%
  • Adult bulls ‐ 2%

Hoppe advises ranchers to contact their local FSA office for Livestock Indemnity Program details and requirements as soon as possible so the proper records are collected. These may include pictures with time and date of dead livestock.


NDSU Extension/Farm Service Agency

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