The commodity title in the 2014 farm bill includes a portfolio of agricultural disaster assistance programs that provide on-going support for livestock producers and other producers. The disaster assistance includes:
- the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for abnormal death losses due to agricultural disasters,
- the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for drought and fire losses to grazing capacity,
- the Emergency Assistance Program for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) for other livestock disaster losses, and
- the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) for disaster losses for orchard and nursery tree growers.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers the disaster assistance programs and is continuously receiving applications as losses occur, with additional annual deadlines for each program as well. The assistance is available to eligible producers and is limited to a cumulative $125,000 per person per year across all programs.
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) covers death losses of livestock in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather, attacks from wildlife reintroduced by the federal government or protected by federal law, or other qualifying disaster events.
Livestock owners need to submit a notice of loss and apply for assistance at the local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is first apparent. The notice of loss needs to come with documented evidence, such as photographs, records, and similar documents.
LIP provides an indemnity equal to 75% of the average fair market value of the animals as of the day before death as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
With recent heat and humidity conditions contributing to livestock stress and potential death losses, the LIP should provide substantial assistance to Nebraska producers.
A fact sheet from FSA explains the program and application details in depth. Further detail of the programs for livestock producers follows below.
Livestock Forage Program (LFP)
The Livestock Forage Program (LFP) provides assistance to livestock producers suffering grazing losses due to drought conditions or fire on federally managed grazing lands. Eligibility for benefits is triggered when the county is identified by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having severe drought conditions or worse for specific times during the grazing season.
If producers qualify for losses, FSA calculates a payment equal to 60% of the estimated monthly feed costs (50% in the case of fire on federal grazing land) for eligible livestock (including consideration for livestock liquidated due to drought conditions). The LFP assistance is equal to the monthly feed cost payments multiplied by one to five months based on the following measures for drought severity according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and certified for each county by FSA.
|Drought Severity in the County||LFP Assistance|
|D2 for 8 weeks||1 month|
|D3 at any time||3 months|
|D3 for 4 weeks or D4 at any time||4 months|
|D4 for 4 weeks||5 months|
For fire on federal grazing lands, the assistance is limited to the number of days the producer is prohibited from grazing due to the fire or 180 days, whichever is less.
Livestock producers who own or lease grazing land or pasture are eligible for assistance under the LFP. To apply for assistance producers need to document the inventory and physical location of the eligible livestock as well as the evidence of ownership or lease of grazing land or pasture covered by the program.
With abnormally dry and drought conditions re-entering Nebraska in 2017 and with severe drought conditions not far away, the LFP could become a critical tool for producers if conditions continue to deteriorate. An FSA fact sheet explaining the program and application details in depth.
Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP)
The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) program provides relief to producers of livestock, honey bees and farm-raised fish due disaster losses from disease, adverse weather, or other conditions not adequately covered by other programs as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture. The support could cover death losses, feed losses, or grazing losses not covered by other programs as well as other costs associated with caring for animals as a result of eligible drought or illness conditions, including water transport costs.
Total ELAP funding is limited to $20 million per year in legislation, so if the demand for ELAP is extensive, assistance payments could be limited or prorated if necessary. Details on ELAP coverage and application are available from FSA on the web.
Beyond the specific disaster assistance programs described here, in times of drought and other disasters FSA supports producers through additional programs and resources. In response to disaster conditions, the Secretary of Agriculture can release Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for emergency grazing or haying in disaster and surrounding areas, including the potential to hay CRP acres and donate the hay to producers in need. The Emergency Loan Program provides loan assistance to producers working through production and physical losses due to disasters. Both programs are administered by FSA.
Producers can also look at insurance and other related programs to help preclude the losses from future disaster events. Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage insurance provides one mechanism to protect feed or grazing supplies from drought losses. The PRF program is available as a pilot program and provides coverage based on a rainfall index as a proxy for growing conditions and production. For more information on PRF see "Pasture Rangeland Forage Insurance is a Risk Management Tool for Producers".
While PRF is available for purchase through crop insurance agents, the Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP) is also available through FSA to protect grazing and forage production, given that PRF is only a pilot program at present.
Either program can provide producers with the tools to help manage drought risk in the future. In the meantime, the disaster assistance programs will help producers with any losses from current disasters and drought conditions.
Bradley D. Lubben
Extension Assistant Professor, Policy Specialist, and
Director, North Central Risk Management Education Center
University of Nebraska–Lincoln