Ten congressmen penned a letter to Secretary Vilsack asking for assistance regarding the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).
As authorized by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, LIP was intended by Congress to ensure that livestock producers, when appropriate, could receive assistance for excess losses due to extreme weather conditions. In the interest of fiscal responsibility, LIP was also designed to begin the process of budgeting for agriculture disasters in the Farm Bill to avoid the delays and complications often associated with ad-hoc disaster programs. The authorization for LIP expired on Sept. 30, however, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to consider claims for losses that occurred prior to Oct. 1, it is requested that there are considerations made.
During the course of the program, livestock producers have continued to share instances where LIP eligibility and reporting requirements were applied inconsistently among county and state Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. Feedback from constituents included inconsistent standards for verifying losses after a disaster as well as confusion over eligibility requirements for LIP benefits from year to year. Producers want to provide the appropriate documentation for claims when available but these inconsistencies in policies have made it difficult to complete claims in a timely and orderly manner. For range losses in remote areas, there have also been instances in which producers, unable to immediately locate lost animals due to extreme blizzard or flooding conditions, were unable to qualify for LIP assistance.
In conclusion, the representatives said that in the future, they hope to work with the department to improve the program for range livestock operations as a reauthorization in considered.
Signators of the letter included Sens. Michael Enzi (Wyo.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), John Thune (S.D.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Mark Udall (Colo.) and Reps. Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Scott Tipton (Colo.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Denny Rehberg (Mont.).
"The LIP has provided risk management for sheep producers in severe weather situations and is a priority to reauthorize in the next Farm Bill. We appreciate the Congressional leadership in support of this program, particularly as we need full eligibility for range operations by the Farm Services Agency," said Peter Orwick, American Sheep Industry Association executive director. "