By Amber Houston
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The 2014 Farm Bill, though two years late, will offer much needed assistance to local farmers, provided they sign up in time.
This bill restored several USDA disaster assistance programs, including the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Program offers assistance to farmers who suffered losses in grazing since October 2011 specifically due to drought or fire. The qualifications are that the county these farmers graze must have experienced D2 drought for eight or more consecutive weeks; D3 drought at any time; D3 drought for four consecutive weeks; or D4 drought for four weeks. The level of drought and duration will decide how much financial assistance will be provided.
Records show that Madison County meets most of these requirements, even within the period of May 2012 to the present. All D2-D3 requirements are met, though Madison County does not meet the D4 requirement at any time since October 2011.
The program is legally capable of providing retroactive assistance all the way back to October 2011, and personal grazing times will vary. To determine personal eligibility, visit the Farm Service Agency eligibility calculator at droughtmonitor.unl.edu/fsa/FsaEligibilityCounty.aspx.
The Livestock Indemnity Program covers livestock deaths due to blizzard, hurricane, flood, wildfire, disease or extreme temperatures. This past winter showcased extreme cold, and Jefferson County has been no stranger to drought since 2012. This program will help defray the cost of livestock deaths including turkeys, cows, chickens, buffalo, pigs, deer, elk, emus, horses, goats, sheep, ducks, llamas and more.
According to the Farm Service Agency website, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program “provides assistance for livestock grazing, feed, and death losses; honeybee feed, colony, and hive losses; and fish feed and death losses. ELAP also covers losses related to expenses incurred to gather cattle for cattle tick fever treatment and, beginning in 2014, for losses related to the cost of transporting water due to an eligible drought.”
An agent with the Farm Service Agency can assist local farmers with their personal eligibility and application process. To contact the Florida state office, call (352) 379-4500.