Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Help Drought Stricken Ranchers

August 13, 2021

Senator John Hoeven, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Jon Tester today introduced bipartisan legislation to improve livestock disaster assistance programs to better meet the needs of producers facing severe drought and other natural disasters. Specifically, the legislation:

·  Better aligns coverage between the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP).

·  Increases producer assistance under LFP to more accurately compensate them for feed costs.

·   Specifies transportation costs for feed and water as covered losses under ELAP.

·   Makes these program improvements permanent.  

“Our livestock producers are facing real challenges during this drought,” said Senator Hoeven. “Our bipartisan legislation makes common-sense improvements to the Livestock Forage and Emergency Livestock Assistance Programs to better meet the needs on the ground. Our ranchers are really up against it and this bipartisan legislation is about doing all we can to help them through this severe weather.”

“We are experiencing a devastating drought that has touched every corner of Montana and put a real hurt on livestock producers in our state,” said Senator Tester. “This bipartisan bill will beef up critical livestock disaster programs, providing additional certainty so Montana ranchers can weather this year’s drought and emerge whole on the other side of this crisis.” 

This legislation follows Hoeven’s efforts to help farmers and ranchers weather the severe drought conditions impacting much of the state. This includes:

·   Including the following disaster assistance in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY)22 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which was            approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week:

     o   $6.28 billion in disaster assistance to aid producers who suffered losses due to droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, floods               and other qualifying disasters. The funding will extend WHIP+ to cover losses in calendar years 2020 and 2021. 

     o   $750 million for livestock producers for losses incurred during 2021 due to drought or wildfire. This disaster assistance            will build on top of existing farm bill programs for livestock producers.

·   Securing emergency procedures and new flexibilities from the Risk Management Agency (RMA) for crop insurance                   providers to help ensure quick and fair adjustments and payments to producers.

     o   Hoeven pressed for this flexibility during his recent drought tour with RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy, and              it comes as part of the senator’s efforts to help producers weather severe drought conditions in North Dakota. 

·   Providing flexibility to farmers when utilizing cover crops, which provide an additional source of feed for livestock                      producers.

     o   Following RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy’s visit to North Dakota, RMA announced it will allow producers to            hay, graze or chop cover crops on prevented plant acres at any time while still receiving their full crop insurance                            indemnity.

Source: Senator John Hoeven & Senator Jon Tester