Tester, Thune Lead Colleagues in Requesting Assistance for Livestock Producers Affected by Drought
Senators request expanded USDA relief for producers transporting livestock to feed
United States Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont) and John Thune (R-S.D.) this week led a bipartisan group of senators in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to address a gap in coverage under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). In September, USDA announced it would provide ELAP assistance for the cost of transporting feed to livestock, but producers who are transporting their livestock to feed are not eligible for the program.
“[W]e continue to hear from producers who have been severely affected by drought this year and have incurred costs related to transporting their livestock to feed sources instead of hauling feed to their livestock,” the Senators wrote. “Under current regulations, these producers are not eligible for ELAP transportation assistance. We respectfully request that FSA exercise its authority to further improve ELAP by providing payments to producers for a portion of the costs they have incurred from transporting their livestock to feed sources.”
Tester pushed for expanded ELAP funding through his bipartisan Livestock Disaster Relief Act, which he recently introduced to help Montana ranchers impacted by drought keep their livestock alive and their operations afloat. The legislation was introduced in response to Montana facing severe drought across the state and experiencing one of its most harmful wildfire seasons in the past decade, resulting in decreased feeding capabilities for Montana’s livestock producers.
ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. ELAP already covers the cost of hauling water during drought. USDA expanded the program beginning in 2021 to cover feed transportation costs where grazing and hay resources have been depleted following a push by Senator Tester.
Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency Office to learn more.
As the only working farmer in the United States Senate, Tester has been a fierce advocate for Montana’s farmers and ranchers and recently secured USDA relief for Montana producers through the authorization of haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, Livestock Forage Program (LFP) funding, and ELAP funding.
Read the Senators’ full letter HERE.