August 24, 2007
August 24, 2007 - Word from Sen. Tim Johnson's (S.D.) office is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a projected time frame for disaster assistance sign-up. USDA is targeting September for the Livestock Compensation Program and the Livestock Indemnity Program and October for the Crop Disaster Program. Additionally, the $16 million Emergency Conservation Program funds will be allocated as soon as a Federal Register notice gets published later this month.
The Secretary of Agriculture must make payments to producers no more than 60 days after the date the producer submits a completed application. If the Secretary does not make payments to the producers within this timeframe, the Secretary must pay interest to producers.
Related to the availability of these disaster assistance programs, the President signed into law a bill authored by Sen. John Thune (S.D.) correcting a potentially devastating mistake in the $3 billion agricultural disaster aid package that passed Congress in May. The Thune bill tweaked language in the original package ensuring that it will provide money to ranchers who lost forage for their livestock in 2005, 2006 or 2007 (up to Feb. 28, 2007).
As written, the relief package would only have compensated producers who had participated in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) or the federal crop insurance pilot program. Nationwide participation in NAP was less than 13 percent in 2005 and 2006 because payments for losses were low.
Without Thune's language, as many as 90 percent of the livestock and forage producers who suffered losses would have been ineligible for the assistance Congress intended for them to receive, according to a news release from Thune's office. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33