The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced it will add an additional weight category to the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for non-adult beef cattle, non-adult dairy cattle and non-adult buffalo/beefalo.

The agency will split the over-400 pound category into two categories, 400 to 799 pounds and 800 pounds or more. This change, according to FSA, will ensure that assigned market values for cattle over 400 pounds reflect the statutory requirement for the payment to be 75 percent of the market value for the livestock.

Prior to this change, with all non-adult cattle over 400 pounds classed together, that 75-percent payment would have been based on an average value across the entire weight range. This change should provide higher compensation to producers who have lost heavier yearling cattle, better reflecting their true market value.

Dwight Aakre, North Dakota State University Extension Service farm management specialist, explains that LIP compensates producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality rates because of adverse weather that occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2008, and before Oct. 1, 2011. A disaster designation is not needed to trigger payment eligibility for LIP. Payments will be based on a producer's eligible losses due to adverse weather conditions.

 "Payment rates are per head, type of livestock and weight range," Aakre says. Payments are based on 75 percent of fair market value as determined by the FSA. Only weather- related losses in excess of normal mortality rates for the area are covered. In North Dakota, for example, normal mortality for beef calves less than 400 pounds is 4.6 percent and 1.6 percent for adult beef cows. Proof of livestock death must be provided and may include verifiable records, producer records or third-party certification.

The deadline for producers who suffered excessive weather-related animal deaths between Jan. 1, 2008 and July 12, 2009 to apply for payments is Sept. 13.

FSA state offices will establish new normal mortality rates for each of the new weight categories covered under LIP and FSA national headquarters will establish average fair market prices for each category.

LIP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill and provides assistance to producers for livestock deaths that result from natural disasters. Using funds from the Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund established under section 902 of the Trade Act of 1974, the program is administered by FSA. LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather, including losses due to hurricanes, floods, blizzards, disease, wildfires, extreme heat and extreme cold. Eligible losses must have occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2008, and before Oct. 1, 2011.

For more information on the Livestock Indemnity Program from USDA, click here.

USDA also provides a site with links to contact information for Farm Service Agency offices in each state.