A group of Senators on Wednesday sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack calling on him to expedite implementation of the livestock disaster programs reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., led the delegation.
The senators write, "In 2012, U.S. grazing livestock producers experienced the most devastating loss of pasture, rangeland, and forage in decades due to the widespread drought.
"In October 2013, winter storm Atlas, an unexpected early fall blizzard, killed more than 20,000 cattle, sheep, horses and bison in the Dakotas and Nebraska, leaving many livestock producers with less than 50% of their livestock herds surviving.
"Due to the magnitude of pasture, forage, and livestock losses and the urgent need for financial assistance these losses have created, we strongly urge you to place implementation of 2014 Farm Bill livestock disaster programs as a top priority."
The Senators also requested that Vilsack provide them with the current status of Livestock Indemnity Program and Livestock Forage Disaster Program implementation, "including the timeframe for policy and software development, rulemaking, signup, and issuance of payments by February 14, 2014."
"Our livestock producers and their lenders need this information so they can plan accordingly," the Senators concluded.
Other Senators signing the letter included: Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Max Baucus, D-Mont., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Boozman, R-Ark., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Al Franken, D-Minn., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Angus King, I-Maine, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Tom Udall, D-N.M.
Source: Thune, Heitkamp