U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue has approved a request made by a partisan group of Senators to provide immediate Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) assistance to agriculture producers. Severe weather events this year in the Plains, Rocky Mountains, Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes regions have led to devastating livestock losses.
Per the senators’ request, USDA will also delegate LIP approval to Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committees. These county offices are the most familiar with local weather and disaster events as well as the livestock management practices of area farmers and ranchers.
The group of 9 senators sent a letter to the Ag Secretary in early April making the request. The letter said, “The extreme conditions our ranchers faced this winter led to real losses. These payments are needed to help ranchers recover and maintain their operations. That’s why we’re pressing Secretary Perdue to ensure the payments are issued as soon as possible, and delegating this authority to the FSA County Committees is an important step in making that happen.”
The letter was signed Senators John Hoeven (R-ND), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Thune (R-SD), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS).
“We appreciate Secretary Perdue promptly approving our request to provide this assistance to help ranchers recover from devastating losses and extreme weather events,” Hoeven said. “Delegating payment approval to FSA County Committees will also help speed up the process so producers can get their operations back up and running as soon as possible.”
“I want to thank Secretary Perdue for recognizing our concern and taking swift action to make it possible for farmers and ranchers in South Dakota and throughout other areas that were adversely affected by damaging weather events to be approved at the local level for this important assistance,” said Thune. “It’s a common-sense policy change that puts these local county committees, which have a far better sense of what’s happening on the ground, in a more effective position to accurately make these determinations.”
The senators also urged Perdue to prioritize LIP regulatory updates as USDA implements the 2018 farm bill, revisit and broaden weather-related LIP eligibility criteria, and adhere to the management protocol changes outlined in the 2018 farm bill.