The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be providing some relief to drought-impacted ranchers in the West and Great Plains. Assistance is being made available through adjustments made to the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP). USDA will be helping to cover some of the costs associated with the transport of livestock feed. Ranchers that rely on grazing for their livestock have been forced to supplement their grazing programs with feed because of drought conditions.
“USDA is currently determining how our disaster assistance programs can best help alleviate the significant economic, physical and emotional strain agriculture producers are experiencing due to drought conditions,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “The duration and intensity of current drought conditions are merciless, and the impacts of this summer’s drought will be felt by producers for months to come. Today’s announcement is to provide relief as ranchers make fall and winter herd management decisions.”
The ELAP already addresses the cost of transporting water during drought conditions. The program is being expanded for 2021 to include feed transportation costs when there are not adequate grazing and hay resources available. Coverage of the program will extend to areas that have a drought intensity of D3 or greater or have experienced a drought intensity of D2 for eight consecutive weeks. Assistance may also be available in areas where USDA has determined a shortage of local or regional feed availability.
Eligibility requirements for drought-impacted ranchers include having incurred transportation costs for feed sometime this year for livestock intended for grazing. USDA will be establishing a national cost formula to determine reimbursement costs. The initial cost formula of $6.60 per mile will be used for 2021, before the percentage is applied. Adjustments may also be made based on the region or state. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will be providing more details about the assistance for drought-impacted ranchers in the coming weeks. FSA will also be making tools and resources available to assist ranchers apply for assistance on their local USDA Service Center.