Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that eligible ranchers and livestock producers can begin applying for benefits under the provisions of the Livestock Indemnity Program in the 2008 farm bill.

"This program will provide livestock producers with a vital safety net to help them overcome the damaging financial impact of natural disasters," said Vilsack.

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides assistance to producers for livestock deaths that result from disaster. Using funds from the Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund established under section 902 of the Trade Act of 1974, the program is administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather, including losses due to hurricanes, floods, blizzards, disease, wildfires, extreme heat and extreme cold. Eligible losses must have occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2008, and before Oct. 1, 2011.

Specific provisions for the other supplemental agricultural disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2008 Act — the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) — will be implemented through separate rulemakings and announced at a later date.

For more information on available supplemental disaster assistance programs, please visit your FSA county office or http://www.fsa.usda.gov.