NICOLE NORRIS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
While everyone is praying for rain and knowing it may not be in the forecast, an extension of Alabama’s “normal grazing period” through the USDA’s Livestock Forage Program (LFP), may offer farmers some much needed relief.
According to Alabama Farmers Federation (AFF), a conference call was organized by AFF with federal agencies and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and staff from all nine of Alabama’s congressional offices to provide an update on how the drought is impacting the state’s farmers. In response to the call, Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Daniel Robinson asked that the grazing period be extended through Dec. 31. The request was approved by USDA on Nov. 21.
“I want to thank our delegation for taking time to hear our concerns and for encouraging USDA to address the needs of our farmers in a timely manner,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “We are especially appreciative of Sen. Richard Shelby and Congressman Robert Aderholt for going the extra mile to make sure we help as many farmers as we can during this devastating drought.”
The extension may provide farmers more time to qualify for assistance through the LFP. Counties eligible for the program are determined, in part, by the U.S. Drought Monitor. While the entire state is suffering from drought, farmers in about a dozen south Alabama counties are not yet eligible for full benefits under the program.
“As the drought worsens, this extra time to qualify will be important to farmers in counties that have not yet been deemed eligible for assistance based on the Drought Monitor,” said Mitt Walker, director of National Legislative Programs for the Federation. “We are also working with FSA and our congressional offices to expedite payments to farmers.”
In addition to LFP, farmers may qualify for assistance under the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Qualified farm operators in counties designated as disaster areas may also apply for FSA low-interest emergency loans.