Tag Archives: livestock

LINCOLN, NE – As the flood water recedes and snow melts, farmers and ranchers are getting a better look at the amount of damage their operations have suffered from last week’s extreme weather events.

One of the more significant losses experienced by landowners has been livestock death. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has assistance available to help landowners cope with the aftermath of livestock death.

Through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, commonly referred to as EQIP, farmers and ranchers can apply for assistance to properly dispose of dead livestock. Applications are being accepted now through July 1, 2019.

NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “This was an unprecedented and devastating event for Nebraska. Some ranchers are dealing with hundreds of dead animals. This is not only damaging to their bottom-line, but if these animals are not disposed of properly, there could be negative impacts to water quality and other natural resources. NRCS conservationists are available to provide technical and financial assistance to help producers dispose of livestock carcasses in a safe manner.”

Producers who have not already disposed of livestock can apply for EQIP now. Producers can then get a waiver to allow them to begin working to dispose of deceased livestock before having an approved EQIP contract.

“Typically, producers cannot begin working on an EQIP practice before their EQIP contract has been approved. But since this situation is so time-critical, NRCS is encouraging producers to sign up for EQIP first, then submit a waiver to go ahead and begin animal disposal prior to having their EQIP contract approved,” Derickson said.

Producers in the area who suffered other damages due to the blizzard and flooding – such as damaged fencing, water sources, or windbreaks – may also seek assistance from NRCS through general EQIP funding. The sign-up period for general EQIP is continuous and has no cut off application date.

Derickson said, “NRCS is committed to helping producers get back on their feet after these extreme weather events while also ensuring Nebraska’s natural environment remains healthy and productive.”

For more information about the programs and assistance available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center orwww.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.

Governor Laura Kelly yesterday toured counties damaged by flooding in Kansas and Nebraska with Maj. General Lee Tafanelli from the Kansas National Guard, Deputy Director Angee Morgan from the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and Acting Director Earl Lewis from the Kansas Water Office. They flew by helicopter to Leavenworth and then up the Missouri River Basin surveying the damage and relief efforts.

Kelly signed an executive order yesterday easing motor carrier regulations to expedite emergency relief and restoration. Last week, the governor issued a state of disaster emergency declaration for several counties affected by flooding. Local, state and federal partners will continue to work together to address the needs of communities and rural areas.

Livestock groups warn any trade allowing Brazil to export beef to the U.S. would put the U.S. beef industry at risk. President Donald Trump and his counterpart from Brazil discussed trade issues Tuesday, including beef, sugar and ethanol. However, some livestock groups expressed concern regarding the potential reopening of fresh beef exports to the U.S. market.

The United States Cattlemen’s Association reiterated its strong opposition to the move that the organization says would compromise the “health of the domestic cattle herd for the sake of increased beef exports, especially from a country marred by scandal.” The group urged President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to strongly consider potential animal health issues stemming from possible trade with Brazil, including the 2017 discovery that Brazilian meat inspectors had been caught accepting bribes to allow expired meats to be sold and sanitary permits to be falsified.

Last week’s bomb cyclone continues to inundate parts of the Midwest with flood waters this week. Following the storm that hit Nebraska the hardest, the flood waters made their way downstream over the weekend to include, Iowa Kansas and Missouri. Multiple levees have been topped or breached, which has swamped farmland and small towns along the Missouri River.

Some areas broke record levels, including those set in the historic floods of 2011 and 1993. The Army Corps of Engineers has reduced water releases from the Gavins Point dam over the weekend, but much of the current problem stems from the saturated Platte River in Nebraska. Still, releases from Gavins Point have been above average since last June, stemming from a wet spring and fall last year. Nearly the entire lower Missouri River, along with the Mississippi River, are included in flood warnings.

Producers are urged to contact their local Farm Service Agency to find information on assistance programs. In addition, the Nebraska Farm Bureau has set up a relief fund and exchange. Details of the fund can be found at www.nefb.org.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP): This program financially assists producers when they suffer loss of livestock due to adverse weather. As producers assess their individual situations, whether it be the blizzard in the West or the flooding in the East, here are a couple of key things to keep in mind:

  1. If you have suffered a loss of livestock, you need to report those losses to your FSA county office within 30 days of when those losses become apparent. This 30-day notification window is critical. A phone call to the county office works for this notification.
    1. Keep in mind, outside of the immediate situations, some producers had some extreme weather in February where folks suffered livestock losses, so depending on when those losses occurred in February, that notification window is closing.
  2. Documentation of losses also is critical. FSA will need some sort of supporting evidence of your losses, and this can include things such as: veterinarian certification, other independent third party certification, rendering receipts, dated photos or video. Those things are an important part of the application process.
  3. FSA will also need to know the type or weight of the animals lost. Adult animals, so bulls and cows, vs. calves or yearlings, are broken out differently in the LIP program, so that part of the record is important.
  4. Information about the specific weather conditions that caused the losses also is important.

Here is the link to the most recent Fact Sheet about LIP.

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP): This program covers some livestock losses that do not fall under the Livestock Indemnity Program. Specific to the current adverse weather situations in Nebraska, ELAP may be applicable as it can, in certain situations, financially assist with livestock feed losses, such as bales that may have been destroyed in the flood.

Here is the link to the most recent Fact Sheet about ELAP.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP): ECP can provide some cost-share assistance to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. It also can provide cost-share assistance to help restore fences damaged or lost due to natural disaster. There is quite a bit to this program, and it doesn’t trigger automatically. FSA county committees will need to make a request for this program in their local areas. It is critical that producers, if they think they may want to access this cost-share resource, contact their county office about this program before taking any action to repair damages.

In the opening paragraph of the FFA Creed there is the line, ” in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.” When E.M. Tiffany wrote those lines, there was no such day as National Ag Day but, National Ag Day 2019 may have merged the day and the meaning behind the line.

Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation declaring it  Ag Week in Nebraska on Wednesday, March 13th. The  Governor signed the proclamation inside the Rural Radio Network Studios in Lexington.

Governor Ricketts and Director of Agriculture Steve Wellman following the signing of the Ag Week proclamation.

Listen to the Governor and Director of Agriculture here: https://post.futurimedia.com/krvnam/playlist/governor-ricketts-declares-ag-week-in-nebraska-6295.html

During the signing, Governor Ricketts urged Ag producers and Nebraska residents to prepare for the impending storm.

Even with meteorologists warning and the Governors urging,  producers could not know the upcoming storm would bring record low pressure. The pressure dropped so fast that it became what is known as a bomb cyclone.  Meteorologists refer to a strengthening low as “bombing” out if its minimum surface pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less.  In just 13 hours, a bomb cyclone was seen in the Midwest.  As a result, Pueblo, Colorado had set a low pressure record on Wednesday.

By the morning of Thursday, March 14th, Eastern Colorado, Western Kansas and the Panhandle of Nebraska were under snow and heavy winds with blizzard like conditions. Eastern and Central Nebraska had heavy rains that swelled creeks and rivers. Flooding started to wash over roads and making travel dangerous.

The March 13th storm dropped heavy snow in the Nebraska Panhandle. NRRA Radio Station KNEB stayed on air throughout the storm. (Photo Courtesy of Bill Boyear)

Through all this, Ag producers worked to care for their livestock as best they could.  For numerous ranchers the storm hit during calving season. Susan Littlefield may have captured just how dire the situation was with her radio story, “In Their Own Words.” Littlefield spoke with Brooke Stuhr who ranches near Albion. Stuhr described how her husband worked through the night  and freezing rain to try and scrape pens. He then re-bed them so that the cattle would not be in knee deep in near freezing mud.

Listen to “In Their Own Words” here: http://bit.ly/2TPkGii

Stuhr’s story is similar to many producer’s across Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado who fought near white out conditions, more than a foot of snow, rain,  freezing rain,  and flooding. Ag producers truly struggled even with all their toil to try and prepare livestock and their property. They lost livestock, equipment, feed, and infrastructure like fence. This only marks the beginning as flood water recedes,  and the mud takes its place. Ag producers have a long road ahead. The mud will suck pickups and tractors in. The  mud will also be a harbinger of illness for newborn animals.

Photo: Beth Vavra captures this picture of her husband near Turkey Creek trying to bring cattle in from rising waters.

There are better days ahead though. The increased moisture will help green the grass when the weather warm ups. The silt from floods will deposit needed nutrients into productive bottom ground. The storm may have also showed ag producers how to better prepare and care for livestock in future storms.  It was National Ag Day and Ag producers celebrated by caring for their livestock and land. They knew that better days were ahead because of the current struggles.

For those that want to help those affected by the storm visit http://krvn.com/help-now/  .

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Just two months after a federal court judge struck down an Iowa law meant to discourage investigations of animal abuse on farms, lawmakers are pushing another so-called ag-gag measure that opponents say would likely land the state in court again.

Civil rights and animal welfare groups expressed surprise that Iowa Republican lawmakers would try to pass another law and potentially invite more lawsuits even as the state appeals a ruling regarding the current law. Legal bills for that case have likely already cost taxpayers more than $200,000 and continue to mount as the state appeals the case to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The new bill would create a trespass charge for those who use deception to gain access to a farm to cause physical or economic harm, with a penalty of up to a year in jail. It also allows for a conspiracy charge that carries a similar penalty.

The bill has the support of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Sen. Ken Rozenboom, the Republican who will manage the bill on the Senate floor, said this measure is more narrowly focused than the 2012 law struck down by the court. That law was approved following high-profile undercover investigations by animal welfare groups who videotaped practices they claimed were abusive toward animals and then publicized the images.

Rozenboom, a hog producer from Oskaloosa, said the new bill more clearly states the intention of perpetrators is to use deception to harm the farming operation.

Lawmakers said they studied Judge James Gritzner’s Jan. 9 ruling and drafted this legislation to make it similar to laws in other states that have been upheld by courts.

“They worked very hard to make sure they crafted a bill that at least in some other states have passed muster in their courts,” said House Speaker Linda Upmeyer. “We tried to stay very focused on biosecurity and keep it very tightly reined in so that it would withstand a court inspection.”

Rozenboom said producers are concerned about animal diseases being introduced to farms by an undercover investigator, and Iowa needs to have a way to discourage them.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which helped represent animal welfare groups in the lawsuit, is lobbying against the new bill, arguing it also violates constitutional free speech protections.

“It has not passed the House or the Senate and we will continue to lobby the Legislature hard to make them understand these concerns. If it were to pass, the governor were to sign it, we’ll figure out next steps,” said Daniel Zeno, the group’s policy director and lobbyist.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the groups that sued the state over the 2012 law and has fought similar laws in several farm states, criticized Iowa lawmakers for pushing forward with another bill.

“This statute is unconstitutional and we’ve done five of these suits and we’re prepared to do a sixth,” said Matthew Liebman, the group’s director of litigation. “We’d much rather this doesn’t pass and we could save our resources for other cases that protect animals but these things are a true threat to public information and animal welfare.”

The group points out state taxpayers have had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending the laws. Utah was ordered to pay $349,000 in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs in addition to the state’s own lawyer fees, and the case in Idaho cost $260,000 in plaintiff fees.

Documents in the Iowa lawsuit show attorneys for the animal rights groups are seeking just over $200,000 for their fees, which don’t include the state’s own litigation costs and the cost of future appeals. The judge hasn’t yet ruled on whether to approve the amount sought.