Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  The House of Representatives today passed Senator John Thune's bill (S.1716) which would correct a potentially devastating mistake in the $3 billion agriculture disaster aid package that passed Congress in May. Senator Thune's legislation will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

"Congress clearly intended disaster assistance to be available to crop and livestock producers who suffered devastating losses due to natural disasters in 2005 and 2006," said Thune. "The assistance provided by Congress includes payments for livestock death losses under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and compensation for grazing and other losses under the Livestock Compensation Program (LCP)."

"Last week the Senate unanimously passed this much needed bill," said Thune. "I am pleased the House of Representatives recognized the urgency of this situation by passing my bill in a timely manner."

Without passage of Thune's bill, as many as 90 percent of the livestock and forage producers who suffered losses would be deemed ineligible for the assistance Congress intended for them to receive. The Department of Agriculture's Office of General Counsel has determined that language in section 9012 of the disaster legislation means that in order to be eligible for the LIP, or the LCP, a producer must have participated in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), or a federal crop insurance pilot program during the year LIP or LCP assistance is requested. According to USDA, nationwide participation in NAP during the required years was less than 13 percent. The reason the participation rate in NAP is so low is because payments for losses generally amount to only $1 or $2 per acre.

"If disaster benefits are limited to only those livestock producers who obtained NAP or pilot crop insurance policies for the year they request disaster assistance, the vast majority of livestock producers with 2005 and 2006 losses will be ineligible for disaster assistance," said Thune. "I find this unacceptable. It is not sound policy to exclude livestock and forage producers from disaster assistance because they chose not to participate in what many consider an ineffective program.

"Over the past few years, drought conditions and other natural disasters have financially strained tens of thousands of agriculture producers across South Dakota and the country. Congress has responded to the needs of America's producers by enacting emergency disaster assistance for our farm and ranch families. My legislation would ensure that forage and livestock producers in need of assistance due to 2005 and 2006 natural disasters are not denied the assistance they are entitled to receive," said Thune. "I will continue working with the USDA to ensure disaster assistance is not further delayed."

USDA plans to issue disaster payments to agriculture and livestock producers this fall. Without Senator Thune's legislative fix, livestock producers will be ineligible to receive most of the $1.3 billion included in the disaster package that Congress envisioned for livestock losses.