Yellowstone Public Radio: Over 50 Montana Counties Qualify For Drought Disaster Assistance

by Olivia Weitz

More Montana livestock producers are now eligible for drought disaster assistance. The U.S. Drought Monitor was updated today and conditions in some parts of Montana are intensifying.

Eligibility for the USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program is tied to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The monitor indicates that conditions in parts of eastern Montana are worsening. As of today, 52 counties in Montana are now eligible for assistance.

The program provides compensation to those who own grazing animals and whose privately owned or leased pasture or forage crops were negatively impacted by the drought. The program also includes payments for those who were not able to graze on federally managed rangeland this year as a result of wildfires.

The program bases the number of payments received on the severity of drought conditions for a maximum of 5 monthly payments. A handful of counties in southwest and eastern Montana are now included in the most severe drought category.

Amid this year’s drought and intense wildfire season, Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would boost livestock disaster programs.

For the existing program in Montana, producers have until Jan. 31 to submit an application.