Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced the state has been allocated $149,705 in federal funding to implement a Livestock Assistance Grant Program.

The funding will assist agricultural producers in their recovery from last spring and summer’s drought. “Our department is pleased to work with USDA in this program to help our producers recover from what we did not receive last spring and summer — rain,” Bronson said. “Many of our animal producers were faced with grazing pastures normally used to produce hay for their winter feeding programs or purchasing hay and feed to keep animals in good health or send them to market.”

USDA identified eight Florida counties for the program, using the U.S. Drought Monitors from March 7, 2006 to Aug. 31, 2006 as the basis for the selection. Any counties that were classified as being in D-3 or D-4 drought during that timeframe were included.

The counties are: Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington. Commercial farmers or ranchers with beef cattle, farmed bison, dairy cattle, sheep, or goats that suffered forage production losses are eligible for assistance.

To receive funding, eligible producers will need to complete a self-certification application that provides the maximum number of eligible livestock that were on-site between March 7, 2006 and Aug. 31, 2006. This application also has a section that requires producers to estimate livestock-related expenses incurred because of decreased forage supplies related to the 2006 drought.

These expenses could include loss of forage production, costs of supplemental feed, cost of relocating cattle to new feed sources, increased feed transportation costs, and emergency water supply needs.

Producers will not receive more relief than their losses. Payments are subject to tax.

Producers must complete the application for assistance so that it is received by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by 5:00 p.m. Jan. 31, 2007, or be postmarked by that date. Applications and other information about the program are available from a number of sources, including:

• Online at www.doacs.state.fl.us/ai/ under Announcements, “Livestock Assistance Grant Program.”

• University of Florida IFAS Extension offices located in qualified counties in Florida.

• Industry Organizations: Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, Southeast Milk Incorporated, Florida Dairy Goat Association, Meat Sheep Alliance of Florida, and Florida Meat Goat Association.

• Farm Services Agency Offices located in qualified counties in Florida.

Completed applications should be mailed to, and any questions directed to, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at the Division of Animal Industry ATTN: Livestock Assistance Grant Program 407 South Calhoun Street, Mail Stop M7 The Mayo Building, Room 323 Tallahassee, Fla., 32399-0800. The phone number is 850-410-0900 or FAX to 850-410-0915