The Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking members of Nebraska's congressional delegation to consider separating the livestock disaster assistance programs from the farm bill so they can be passed on their own.
"Our clear preference is for the House to pass it's version of the farm bill and then work with the Senate to finalize a new, full five-year farm bill that provides certainty for Nebraska farmers, says Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. "However, we recognize that polarized politics in Washington, may prevent this from happening
and our livestock producers need access now to disaster assistance programs due to the extreme drought that has left livestock producers with few options."
In a letter to members of Nebraska's congressional delegation, Nelson noted the federal crop insurance program is designed to aid crop farmers dealing with drought. But assistance for livestock farmers is dependent on livestock disaster assistance programs. Funding for those programs expired toward the end of last year.
"While we would ideally like to see the livestock programs reauthorized as part of a new farm bill, Nebraska's livestock producers are facing life-altering decisions about the future of their farms and ranches," Nelson says.
According to Nelson, the carryover effect of hay and other forage being sent last year to Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas to assist with drought has left shortened supplies. This, coupled with the rapid deterioration of pasture and range land has put many cow-calf producers in the position of scrambling to find expensive feed to retain their herds or in a position of reducing or even completely liquidating cow herds.
"These are very challenging times for those who raise livestock and it's important we consider all available options to help our state's livestock farmers," Nelson says.
Farm Bureau's letter to the delegation was sent to share the organization's position on a proposed one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. Farm Bureau is opposed to the one-year extension proposed in the House.
The U.S. House did take that direction and pass new livestock disaster help, setting aside the idea of a one-year extension to the farm bill. However, after the measure was passed Congress left for a five-week vacation and the U.S. Senate did not take up the measure for consideration. Aid from Washington is, for now, delayed.