By TIM HEARDEN
As a new farm bill continues to take shape, a bill in Congress would ensure that one of its provisions is preserved -- a series of disaster aid programs for livestock producers.
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has reintroduced legislation to grant five-year extensions to the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Program and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program.
The legislation would apply retroactively to cover losses in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, when drought affected more than 70 percent of cattle-producing areas across the country, notes the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
"We're pushing for a full five-year farm bill with permanent disaster assistance -- that is our absolute end goal," NCBA spokesman Chase Adams said. "But as an organization and as cattlemen and women across the nation, we certainly applaud the effort by Kristi Noem of keeping this disaster assistance at the forefront of discussions moving forward."
The Livestock Indemnity Program helps producers defray the costs of replenishing their herds when animals are killed by a natural disaster, while the Livestock Forage Program compensates for grazing losses.
The Emergency Livestock Assistance Program compensates eligible producers for losses not covered under the other two programs, according to the USDA's website.
Noem first introduced the extension bill last spring and it passed the House of Representatives in August.
"The extreme weather we see across America -- from drought to flood to freezes to the extreme heat -- demonstrates the importance of providing a strong safety net," she said in a statement. "My bill gives some long-term certainty to our livestock owners so they'll keep on taking the risk to contribute to our state and nation's robust agricultural industry."
National Cattlemen's Beef Association: http://www.beefusa.org/
Rep. Kristi Noem: http://noem.house.gov/