In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that is updating its emergency assistance for Livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish program (ELAP) to immediately cover feed transportation costs for drought impacted ranchers.
That program already covered the additional costs of transporting water for livestock during periods of extreme drought, identified as D3 or higher. The USDA has now expanded that to include the costs of feed transportation as well for producers in areas of drought intensity or where local or regional feed availability is compromised.
“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,” said US agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack. “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.”
Under the revised policy for feed transportation cost assistance, eligible ranchers will be reimbursed 60% of feed transportation costs above what would have been incurred in a normal year. Producers qualifying as underserved will be reimbursed for 90% of the feed transportation cost above what would have been incurred in a normal year, said the officials.
Cost share assistance will also be made available to cover eligible cost of treating hay or feed, said the USDA.
Depleted feed supplies
Senators from drought hit North Dakota weighed in on the development:
Senator John Hoeven said he made the case to Vilsack and the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administrator, Zach Ducheneaux, to expand ELAP to include coverage of feed transportation costs.
“Our producers have faced severe challenges due to the drought this year and that includes increased feed transportation costs,” he said. “This is much needed assistance and is an important tool in helping our producers weather this drought.”
“The drought in North Dakota significantly depleted feed supplies and drove up the cost of feeding livestock for our cattle producers. By expanding already available assistance to cover feed transportation costs, the Department of Agriculture is helping our cattle producers in a time of significant need,” added US senator, Kevin Cramer.