Producers should keep records of weather-related livestock deaths, North Dakota State University Extension Service specialists say.
Those producers have experienced a variety of adverse weather conditions.
"Late-spring snow, cold rain and sleet storms have moved across parts of the northern Plains, and have coincided with peak calving and lambing seasons," says Karl Hoppe, North Dakota State University Extension Service area livestock specialist at the Carrington Extension Research Center. "Now flooding is occurring along many streams and river systems. Last summer and fall, severe drought conditions also affected ranches and farms in some regions of the northern Plains."
"Currently, there are no federal disaster assistance programs available for adverse weather disasters," says Dwight Aakre, NDSU Extension farm management specialist. "The 2008 farm bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008) authorized several livestock loss programs that expired on Oct. 1, 2011. The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provided benefits for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) covered grazing losses and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) covered death losses not eligible under LIP, grazing not covered under LFP and farm-raised fish and honeybee death and feed losses."
However, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would extend LIP, LFP and ELAP for five years and would retroactively cover losses in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. It is not known if this legislation will pass, be amended or even replaced when a new farm bill that could include disaster assistance is passed.
"Since adverse weather conditions are causing livestock losses, it is important for livestock producers to document all weather-related deaths in case retroactive programs become available," says Tim Petry, NDSU Extension livestock economist. "The previous LIP program covered losses in excess of normal mortality, so it is important for livestock producers to document normal losses, even if a weather disaster has not yet occurred in a particular area."
Providing adequate proof that livestock losses occurred due to an adverse weather event is sometimes a challenge for producers, according to the Extension specialists. Saving local news articles that document the date and severity of the adverse weather, along with good production records and photographs, is a starting point.
A fact sheet for the previous LIP program that describes various methods for providing adequate proof is available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/lip2011_158c020211.pdf.