Tester Leads Bipartisan Bill to Beef Up Livestock Disaster Relief for Montana Ranchers

Senator’s bipartisan Livestock Disaster Relief Act will help ensure that Montana ranchers receive the relief they need to respond to future disasters

As part of his continued efforts to advocate for Montana’s family farmers and ranchers, U.S. Senator Jon Tester this month introduced his bipartisan Livestock Disaster Relief Act with Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to help ensure that Montana’s ranchers receive the relief funding needed to recover from future disasters.

“As a third-generation farmer, I know firsthand how challenging it can be for Montanans when disasters like drought or winter storms strike,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m proud to team up with Senator Hoeven on this bipartisan bill to ensure that Montana ranchers receive the relief they need to respond to future disasters so that they can continue to raise the best cattle in the world.”

Tester’s bipartisan bill will improve the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program (ELAP) to better meet the needs of ranchers impacted by natural disasters. Specifically it will:

Make changes to the Livestock Forage Program, by:

  • Increasing coverage for monthly feed costs to 80 percent.
  • Including unweaned cattle in eligible livestock.
  • Increasing number of months a producer can receive payments.
  • Improving the formula used to calculate monthly feed costs.

Make changes to the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, by:

  • Specifying drought as a covered adverse weather event.
  • Removing restrictions on types of covered losses and disasters.
  • Specifying transportation costs for feed and water as a covered loss.

Tester first introduced his bipartisan legislation as a result of 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.

As the only working farmer in the United States Senate, Tester has been Montana’s leading advocate for family farmers and ranchers. This year Tester has re-introduced his bipartisan Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, which would establish minimums for negotiated sales and require clear reporting of marketing contracts, his Meat Packing Special Investigator Act to fight consolidation by appointing a special investigator within USDA to address and prevent anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries, and his bipartisan American Beef Labeling Act, which would reinstate mandatory country of origin labeling for beef, adding more transparency to the beef industry, and give American producers a fair shake.

In 2022, Tester secured $6 billion in disaster relief funding through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) for commodity and special crop producers impacted by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. Tester was the only member of Montana’s delegation to vote for the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, which included this funding as a part of $10 billion in assistance to agricultural producers impacted by wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, winter storms, and other eligible disasters during 2020-2021.


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