Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that eligible producers may sign up at their local USDA Service Center beginning March 14 for USDA's Livestock Assistance Program (LAP) and American Indian Livestock Feed Program (AILFP).

"We are pleased to be able to provide these benefits to producers as quickly as possible," Johanns said. "Natural disasters are unpredictable weather events that put farmers and ranchers at risk, as they work to produce a dependable and affordable national food supply."

These programs will provide relief to livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses in 2003 and 2004 due to drought, severe weather and related causes, and have limited safety net and risk management tools available.

To speed up the process, producers may sign up for these programs online from their home or business beginning in April or at any USDA Service Center across the nation. To sign up online, producers must first establish an e-authentication identity in their local USDA Service Center. Currently, producers also may sign up online for USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) Loan Deficiency Payment Program and the Direct and Counter-cyclical Payment Program.

The LAP and the AILFP programs were authorized by The Military Construction and Appropriations and Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2005 (2005 Act), to provide disaster assistance for producers who suffered losses in 2003 or 2004.

LAP and AILFP share many of the same eligibility characteristics, such as:

  • A producer's grazing land (LAP) or the tribal governed land (AILFP) must be located in a county designated as a primary disaster county under a Presidential or Secretarial disaster declaration. The county must have been approved as a primary disaster county on or after Jan. 1, 2003, for a disaster occurring through Dec. 31, 2004. Assistance will not be available in contiguous counties.
  • A county may meet eligibility requirements for both 2003 and 2004; however, a producer in that county may receive benefits for only one of those calendar years. Producers may receive benefits under both LAP and AILFP for the same year.
  • The 2005 Act provides that producers who reduced the number of livestock because of a natural disaster shall not be penalized for those reductions. If, because of a natural disaster, a producer sold eligible livestock that were placed on grazing land (LAP) or tribal governed land (AILFP) on or after Jan. 31, 2003, the producers will receive compensation for the entire disaster payment period. Benefits will be based on the number of livestock the producer would have owned if the disaster had not occurred. For livestock that were sold in the course of routine business, producers will receive benefits for those animals only up to the date of sale.
  • Producers of dairy and beef cattle; bison and beefalo; goats; swine; sheep; and certain equine, elk and reindeer are now eligible to participate in both programs.

Provisions of specific eligibility for each program are as follows:

Livestock Assistance Program

The LAP is a grazing loss program that will pay eligible livestock producers for grazing losses on a per head basis of eligible livestock. A producer must have control of adequate grazing land to support the eligible livestock and the producer must possess beneficial interest in eligible livestock that have been owned or leased for at least three months. During 2003 or 2004, a livestock producer must have suffered a 40 percent or greater loss of grazing production for three or more consecutive months due to natural disasters.

The 2005 Act also imposes a requirement that limits assistance to persons with a gross revenue limit of $2.5 million, which is a change from the previous LAP. A $40,000 per person payment limitation also applies to LAP assistance.

American Indian Livestock Assistance Program

AILFP will provide reimbursement of expenses for purchases of livestock feed for producers whose livestock were on tribal-governed land at the time of a natural disaster. Payments are made directly to the livestock owners and based on the smaller of either 30 percent of basic feed needs, stated as the Animal Unit Day (AUD) for eligible livestock, or the actual dollar amount of livestock feed purchases recorded on receipts.

As in the past, tribal governments will request to enter into a government-to-government contract for areas meeting the loss criteria. In addition to meeting other loss criteria, the tribal governed land must have had a loss of grazing production in excess of 35 percent. Livestock owners will receive benefits for the actual number of livestock that were present on tribal-governed land during the disaster payment period in which supplemental feed was provided.

USDA'sWeb site, http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov/ provides producers with one convenient location for details on new and existing disaster assistance.