WASHINGTON – Even as USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has heralded signups for livestock disaster relief programs as some of the first farm bill initiatives implemented by USDA, cattle producers in Iowa are getting confused over eligibility, and now Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has gotten involved.
Vilsack earlier this month pointed to 33,000 applications received and $16.3 million dollars disbursed as some of USDA’s early accomplishments in getting the new farm bill into the fields where it can benefit farmers. USDA says launching the programs took only 10 weeks this year, as opposed to the full year it took in 2008 to get livestock disaster relief programs off the ground.
However, that success has not been equal across Iowa. Concerned and frustrated farmers unclear on eligibility for disaster payments have contacted Grassley’s office, and in response today, Grassley fired off a letter to Vilsack, asking for clarification on which counties are eligible for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program for 2012 and 2013, what documentation is required from producers for losses incurred in 2012 and 2013, and whether or not acres certified as haying and grazing are ineligible for all payments, including partial payments.
“Some simple direction from USDA and communication within FSA can put to rest the concerns that farmers may have,” Grassley said in a press release.
Due to the 2012 drought, Iowa FSA Director John Whitaker says all counties in Iowa are eligible for payments for 2012, and encourages cattle producers to visit their county FSA office to determine eligibility for 2013 payments.