Stifling heat that has lingered over Iowa the past five days is leading to reports of cattle death losses across the state. "In some cases, producers have reported just one or two cattle dying, but reports of larger losses are starting to trickle in," says Dal Grooms, communications director for the Iowa Cattlemen's Association in Ames.
Compared to other animals, cattle rely on respiration more than sweating to cool off. The heavy humidity, lack of wind, and continued high temperatures through the night makes it very difficult for cattle to cool down.
"Producers are working hard to protect their cattle by providing shade, extra water, and sprinkling systems, and that is where their efforts need to be right now. But once this heat has passed, they need to concentrate on reporting any of their losses through the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) at their local Farm Service Agency office," she says.
Application needs to be made within 30 calendar days after loss of livestock
LIP is a program that has not been used much by Iowa livestock farmers, so it's important that they understand how it works.
LIP only provides 30 days to report a loss after it has occurred. "While there are exclusions in the program, it is critical that producers make a timely 'Notice of Loss' report so they can be included if they qualify," says Grooms. Once a report is made, and livestock continue to succumb because of the same weather event, those numbers can be included for the event.
ICA is recommending that producers document their losses, as well as the measures they took to protect the cattle. "Rendering truck receipts, photos and third party verifications from veterinarians, extension personnel or insurance adjusters are important, as is noting the approximate weight of the cattle that died. Likewise, take photos of your sprinkler systems, pen set-up and shade," advises Grooms.
For payment, producers must file an 'Application for Payment' with FSA
The 2008 USDA farm bill included LIP, which provides benefits to producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather. The details of the program are available from the Farm Service Agency, which administers the program. In most cases, the program will provide coverage up to 75% of the value of the animal.
For the payment, producers must file an 'Application for Payment' with FSA. The LIP program is scheduled to close on October 1, 2011 and continued funding for it is unsure. "We encourage cattle producers to make that 'Application for Payment' as soon as they think their herd is fully recovered from the effects of this heat," says Grooms. That is the time to also bring in your documentation to the FSA office.
"The indemnity payment from this USDA program may not make up for the entire loss that producers incur from disaster-related livestock deaths," notes Denise Schwab, an Iowa State University Extension beef specialist. "But it does keep this situation from becoming a full-blown financial disaster."
Contact your local FSA office if you have questions, says Schwab. More information is also available on the FSA website in the LIP fact sheet. For information on heat and heat stress in beef cattle operations, check out this page on the Iowa Beef Center website, or contact your ISU Extension beef program specialist.
About the Iowa Cattlemen's Association: The ICA represents 9,600 beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa's beef industry. ICA's mission is "Grow Iowa's beef business through advocacy, leadership and education."