Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, and Jon Tester (D-MT) recently introduced a bill to improve livestock disaster aid programs.
The Livestock Disaster Relief Act would amend the Agricultural Act of 2014 to align coverage between the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP). It will also increase producer assistance under LFP to compensate them more accurately for feed costs, specify transportation costs for feed and water as covered losses under ELAP and make those program improvements permanent.
“Our livestock producers are facing real challenges during this drought,” Hoeven said. “Our bipartisan legislation makes commonsense improvements to the Livestock Forage and Emergency Livestock Assistance Programs to better meet the needs on the ground. Our ranchers are really up against it, and this bipartisan legislation is about doing all we can to help them through this severe weather.”
According to a press release by Hoeven, the bill follows other relief programs designed to assist farmers and ranchers weather the drought not only in North Dakota, but throughout the West.
The disaster assistance was part of the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in early August. The bill included $6.28 billion for Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to cover losses in calendar years 2020 and 2021 and included $750 million for livestock producers for losses incurred during 2021 due to drought or wildfire.
Tester, a third-generation farmer in Montana, said the drought has “put a real hurt on livestock producers in our state,” and the bill would “beef up critical livestock disaster programs.” — Charles Wallace, WLJ editor