JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi livestock producers are encouraged to consider U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs to help them recover financially from the prolonged drought.

Forty-four Mississippi counties are currently experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Livestock producers in Mississippi may not be familiar with USDA drought assistance programs because we don’t often suffer such extended and severe drought conditions,” said U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.). “I encourage affected producers to contact their local Farm Service Agency office to discuss participation in the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and/or the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program. Both programs could be useful as we deal with these extremely dry conditions.”

Congress provided permanent authorization and funding for several agricultural disaster assistance programs, including the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), in the 2014 Farm Bill.  Both programs are administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).

LFP offers support to producers in eligible counties who have suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought. A USDA fact sheet for LFP, with information on eligibility and payment calculations, is available here.

ELAP covers losses associated with additional costs of transporting water, hauling feed, or hauling livestock to alternative feeding locations. An ELAP fact sheet is available here.

Eligibility for these programs is based on the U.S. Drought Monitor for producers in counties described as having D2 (severe drought) conditions for at least eight consecutive weeks; or either D3 (extreme drought) or D4 (exceptional drought) conditions at any time during the normal grazing period.