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Federal farm bill programs assist Oklahoma livestock farmers

By Catherine Sweeney, Business Writer Modified: July 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 14, 2014

Because of the 2014 Farm Bill, struggling livestock farmers have a renewed source of relief.

The bill financed two programs that have become increasingly important to Oklahoma ranchers. The Livestock Indemnity Program and Livestock Forage Disaster Program offer monetary relief to ranchers who have lost animals in the past few years because of grass shortages and financial strain.

In addition to financing current projects, the bill reworked the programs to assist farmers for years-old losses.

Twelve weeks into the programs, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released a progress report. In it, he said that farmers across the country had waited years for assistance. Now, within a few months of the programs’ start date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has assisted more than 160,000 farmers and ranchers nationwide.

Oklahoma was one of the hardest-hit states, Vilsack told The Oklahoman on Monday. Ranchers here need the assistance more than many, he said.

Of the 160,000 payments across the nation, more than 19,000 have gone to Oklahoma. The Oklahoma payments amount to almost $300 million, he said.

Although drought is the most obvious culprit, other factors have affected the industry.

Feed price was another big factor, he said. The drought killed grazing grass. Low grain yields caused a spike in feed prices. Because there was no funding, the Livestock Forage Program didn’t exist.

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