Senators Udall, Heinrich Welcome News that USDA will Enable Ranchers to Sign up for Farm Bill Drought Disaster Aid within 60 Days

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon enable livestock producers to sign up for disaster assistance, which the senators helped to pass in the Farm Bill earlier this month. The assistance is being expedited — signups will begin in 60 days — at the request of Udall, Heinrich and several other senators from Western states, where producers have been struggling with several years of drought. The program provides assistance to ranchers who experienced grazing and livestock losses due to natural disasters such as drought.

Udall and Heinrich pushed for disaster assistance to be included in the Farm Bill. The program expired in 2011, and producers have struggled since then. In New Mexico, the state-wide herd size has been reduced by 50 percent as a result of the last few years of drought. The Farm Bill makes assistance retroactive and renews the program for another 10 years, offering ranchers some much-needed relief.

Shortly after the Farm Bill passed, Udall and Heinrich urged Vilsack to move quickly to implement the program. And in his announcement earlier today, Vilsack said that the USDA has made it a top priority, adding that signups will be available by April 15. Producers will be permitted to sign up for the programs for 2014 losses, as well as sign up for retroactive compensation to cover their losses in 2012 and 2013.

“New Mexico farmers and ranchers have struggled with the ongoing drought, which has taken a significant toll on their herds, their overall operations, and the economy of our state’s rural farming communities. The Farm Bill disaster assistance programs will provide livestock producers with some much-needed relief that will allow them to begin to rebuild their herds, and recover from the devastating impacts of persistent drought,” said Udall. “I appreciate the Administration’s willingness to ensure the prompt implementation of these programs so New Mexico ranchers and farmers receive the resources and support needed to rebound and thrive.”

Heinrich added, “I’m pleased with the Administration’s quick response to ensure New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers have the necessary resources to recover from the ongoing drought and other recent disasters. Extreme weather conditions, such as drier summers and less snowpack in the winter, have severely impacted our agriculture industry and rural economy. Farmers and ranchers have shaped our state’s history, and I will continue to work on their behalf to ensure these critical programs help them rebuild and recover.”