October 6, 2006
Ranchers reeling from ongoing drought problems across Texas will need to act soon if they hope to collect on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) livestock assistance block grant dollars.
Applications will be accepted through Nov. 13, 2006. Incomplete applications or applications postmarked after that date will not be considered.
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) opened the sign-up period on Sept. 29 to eligible livestock producers in 216 drought-stressed Texas counties.
The livestock block grant is part of a broad-based national drought disaster assistance program for American farmers and ranchers recently announced by the USDA.
Texas will receive $16.1 million of the roughly $50 million designated nationwide from USDA to help livestock producers partially recover losses suffered because of the on-going drought.
As of early August, agricultural economists placed losses suffered in Texas at more than $4 billion, prompting many organizations including Texas Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau Federation to press congressional leaders for more needed drought assistance.
Eligible forage production losses must have occurred between March 7 and Aug. 31, 2006. Eligible livestock includes adult beef cattle two years of age or older or sheep one year of age or older.
Assistance may cover such items as the cost of lost forage, supplemental feeding, the cost of relocating livestock to new pastures and the cost of emergency water supplies.
Payments are limited to $10,000 per producer, and the amount of compensation may not exceed the amount of forage production losses.
For general partnerships or joint ventures, payments will not exceed $10,000 for each member of the partnership or joint venture.
TDA is working with statewide agriculture and livestock groups to establish the criteria for distributing the funds in Texas.
Although local Cooperative Extension and Farm Service Agency staff may have basic knowledge of the program, TDA requests that producers with any questions call 1-800-TELL-TDA (1-800-835-5832).
TDA vowed to work closely with the Governor's office and USDA to set up criteria and distribute the funds from the block grant to livestock producers as quickly as possible.
Only livestock producers in the eligible counties who suffered a loss of forage production because of the 2006 drought may receive assistance.
For more on the program, as well as a list of eligible counties and application forms online, visit TDA's website at www.agr.state.tx.us/agr and click on the link labeled "Drought Assistance Grant Program Information."