Last week, the president signed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government funded through April 8. The CR required the elimination of all earmarks, which was defined to include directives in appropriations report language impacting nine state programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services (WS). The loss of funds, although communicated last Friday, were retroactive to Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.
Livestock protection programs in the following states will be affected: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota.
"The difference between programs in these states and those of neighboring states that keep the federal share of predator management is the simple technicality of language directing spending and is not indicative of the value or critical need of the state level programs," said an ASI spokesman.
Sheep producers in South Dakota, for example, have communicated to their congressional delegation the effect this loss of funding will have on farmers and ranchers in that state. Funding cuts will leave South Dakota with no aerial hunting program at the most critical time of the year with calving and range lambing about to begin. Losses, with the program in place, annually exceed 250,000 sheep and 150,000 cattle and calves, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.
West Virginia livestock leaders have already traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with their congressional offices on the need to find funds now to avoid loss of WS personnel. State livestock industry leaders and their members of Congress are discussing funding with USDA to get through the next few months to avoid the loss of employees and then begin work on the fiscal year 2012 federal funds to get the programs back into operation long term.