Three programs aimed at helping livestock producers hurt by drought would be extended as part of a bill introduced this week by a group of U.S. senators.
"We cannot allow farmers to be wiped out because of a few days of bad weather," says Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who is sponsoring the bill along with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). "Agriculture supports nearly one in four jobs in Michigan and 16 million jobs nationwide, and when key parts of the industry are hit this badly it impacts our whole economy. Our nation is helping families who lost everything because of weather disasters like a hurricane in the Northeast, and it is only right we also help farming families who lost everything because of weather disasters."
Included in the legislation is the Livestock Indemnity Program, which compensates ranchers for livestock mortality resulting from disasters at 65% market value; the Livestock Forage Program, which helps ranchers whose livestock graze on qualifying drought-affected pasture; and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, which compensates producers not covered under other disaster programs.
The measure also offers support for fruit producers and tree growers.
The livestock programs were not included in the nine-month farm bill extension approved as part of fiscal cliff negotiations early this year. The Senate farm bill approved in June included a provision to extend them permanently, but the legislation never advanced.
"Montana ranchers work hard every day to support jobs across our state and put food on tables across the country, and we can’t turn our backs on them during the worst drought in more than 50 years," Baucus says. "This bill is the right thing to do for our ranchers and the right thing to do for Montana jobs."