SAN FRANCISCO – The Humane Farming Association (HFA) is asking the US Dept. of Agriculture to take action against livestock owners who don’t protect their animals from severe weather.

HFA filed a petition with the agency to cease payments to producers under USDA Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which compensates livestock producers who incur losses from inclement weather. Producers can receive compensation in the amount of 75 percent of the animals’ market value up to $125,000 per year, HFA said.

A Freedom of Information Act request produced records showing that in the last three years, LIP issued payments of $134,140,346 to farmers and ranchers for animal deaths due primarily to weather-related issues. Total animal deaths included 202,445 livestock and 2,461,443 poultry, according to HFA.

“Instead of providing adequate shelter to vulnerable livestock, producers who do not assure protections from adverse weather are rewarded with a government check,” HFA National Director Bradley Miller said in a statement. “Compensating producers for dead livestock without ever requiring adequate shelter is actually a disincentive to farmers and ranchers to take the necessary steps to provide their animals with protections from inclement weather. Without this compensation, many producers would no doubt make an effort to provide for their animals. Instead, massive numbers of neglected livestock are dying painfully and needlessly and taxpayers are footing the bill.”

HFA launched the petition in conjunction with Tax Day 2017, to draw attention to this issue in addition to promoting two videos.