WASHINGTON — A reminder was issued on Feb. 3 by Jonathan Coppess, US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) administrator, to livestock producers throughout the Plains states and the Midwest that FSA programs may be available to assist them. Losses and damage to livestock and forage due to heavy snow, ice and extremely cold temperatures has been common this winter.

"This is turning out to be a tough winter for many ranchers and farmers in the nation's heartland, and learning about our FSA programs is an important step for producers to take," Coppess said. "We need producers to document the number and kind of livestock that have died as a direct result of these winter storms and timely notify their local FSA office of these losses. There may be situations where producers are transporting feed to their livestock. Producers should document these additional costs."

FSA administers several programs to help producers recover from livestock deaths that are beyond normal mortality rates, losses of purchased and/or harvested forage, and with the additional costs of providing or transporting feed. Key programs include the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP).

For livestock death losses to be eligible under LIP, producers must file a notice of loss with their local FSA office within 30 calendar days from when the loss is apparent to the producer.

Fact sheets for these two programs can be found atwww.fsa.usda.gov; click on Newsroom, then Fact Sheets.

Producers were also encouraged to use Hay Net on the FSA Web site www.fsa.usda.gov/haynet, an online service that allows producers with hay and those who need hay to post ads so they can make connections. Hay Net is a popular site for farmers and ranchers who have an emergency need, such as the one caused by the current wintry conditions. Individual ads can be posted free of charge by producers who complete a simple online registration form the first time they use the site.

"We encourage all who have suffered a disaster due to the recent cold weather and blizzards to read the fact sheets and visit with their local FSA county office staff so they get a quick start in the recovery process," Coppess concluded.