Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA has already made more than $175 million in disaster payments to America's livestock producers after implementing two new programs in 2009, demonstrating USDA's commitment to rapidly meeting the goals of Congress and providing farmers and ranchers with timely and effective disaster assistance.

"America's farmers and ranchers deserve efficient and effective assistance programs to help get through natural disasters," said Vilsack. "While the previous ad hoc disaster assistance too often was too little, too late, because we were able to get these new programs up and running quickly, we are already beginning to achieve Congress' goal of helping producers recover losses rapidly and more thoroughly."

Under the standing provisions of the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), authorized in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill), producers are better able to recover from their losses stemming from 2008 and subsequent disasters. The 2008 farm bill provisions replace previous ad-hoc disaster assistance programs and are funded through the Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund.

LIP provides payments to eligible livestock owners and contract growers who suffered eligible livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality as a direct result of an eligible adverse weather event including hurricanes, floods, blizzards, disease, wildfires and extreme heat and cold. Eligible livestock under LIP include beef cattle, alpacas, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, lambs, poultry, reindeer, sheep and swine.

LFP provides payments to eligible livestock producers who have suffered livestock grazing losses due to qualifying drought or fire. Eligible livestock under LFP include beef cattle, alpacas, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep and swine.

For losses because of drought, eligible areas are determined using the U.S. Drought Monitor, which can be found at the FSA Web site: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

To be eligible for LIP for livestock losses suffered during 2009, livestock owners and contract growers must file a notice of loss no later than 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent to the producer and an application for payment no later than Jan. 30, 2010.

To be eligible for 2009 calendar year grazing losses under LFP, eligible livestock producers must submit a completed application for payment and required supporting documentation to their administrative county FSA office no later than Jan. 30, 2010.

For more information or to apply for LIP or LFP and other USDA Farm Service Agency disaster assistance programs, visit your FSA county office or http://www.fsa.usda.gov.