U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today, as part of his ongoing effort to introduce multiple proposals to be included in the 2018 farm bill, unveiled new legislation that would make several common-sense updates to the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), both of which are Thune-authored programs. Thune’s bill would get LFP assistance to farmers and ranchers twice as fast and improve the approval rate of LIP payments for weather-related livestock deaths. The legislation would also make a technical correction to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 that would give permittees greater flexibility when grazing on National Forest Grasslands.
“My farm bill rollout is a two-way conversation, and after hearing several concerns raised by farmers and ranchers throughout South Dakota, I’ve proposed making several common-sense updates to the livestock disaster programs that I authored in 2008,” said Thune. “Particularly now, when producers in South Dakota and other states in the Northern Plains are suffering through an increasingly severe drought, we should be talking about ways that we can provide greater assistance to the farmers and ranchers who need it, and my latest proposals would help.”
- Using the U.S. Drought Monitor as a trigger for county eligibility, LFP provides monthly feed loss assistance payments, which are based on a feed-cost-per-head that is indexed to the price of corn for grazing livestock.
- Thune’s bill would modify LFP language to allow a one-month payment when a county reaches the D2 (severe drought) category for four consecutive weeks, compared to eight weeks under current law.
- When a county reaches D2 for eight consecutive weeks, it would be eligible for another month’s payment.
- Other payment categories for D3 (extreme drought) and D4 (exceptional drought) are unchanged under Thune’s bill.
- An eligible livestock producer can receive a maximum of five months of LFP payments per head in one year.
- LIP provides payments for eligible livestock deaths that are in excess of normal mortality rates and due to natural disasters, like blizzards, extreme heat, high winds, and certain other weather events.
- Thune’s bill would strengthen LIP by specifying that livestock deaths, resulting from an eligible weather-related disease, be eligible for LIP if the death is verified as weather-related by a licensed veterinarian.
- It would also specify that USDA shall not use management practices, vaccination protocol, or lack of vaccination, with respect to livestock losses due to a weather-related disease, when it considers eligibility for LIP payments.
- Thune’s fix should stop USDA from arbitrarily denying LIP to certain livestock producers who lose livestock due to weather-related diseases.
Modifying the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA):
- Under current FLPMA rules, ranchers with permits on Forest Service Grasslands are not granted the same rights as those who have grazing permits on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land.
- Thune’s bill would fix this disparity and ensure ranchers who have grazing agreements on Forest Service Grasslands are treated the same as permittees on other federal lands.
- This modification would allow Forest Service Grassland permittees:
- The right to 10-year permits
- First priority for receipt of a new permit
- Entitlement to written notice of any permit violations and an opportunity to achieve compliance before cancellation or suspension proceedings related to the permit
- Except in cases of emergency, no permit cancellation without two years’ prior notification
Click here for legislative text of Thune’s latest farm bill legislation.
To learn more about Thune’s 2018 farm bill, including the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, the Conservation Program Improvement Act of 2017, and the Commodity Program Improvement Act of 2017, please visit the farm bill section on www.thune.senate.gov.