Ag industry, producers hear latest about 2014 farm bill
Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSTIN – Texas cattle producers will need to have documentation in hand as sign-up for federal disaster assistance begins April 15.
Judith Canales, Texas state executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency, kicked off the recent 2014 Ag Forum in Austin, advising producers to schedule appointments with local offices.
The livestock sign-ups for livestock disaster programs begin April 15 – the first of new or extended programs as part of the Agriculture Act of 2014.
“I appreciate the chance to visit with you and attend your meetings,” Canales told Ag Forum attendees. “This (farm bill) deployment is long in the making. Almost two months later, 450 actions have come out of the farm bill required for regulations. We will work hand in hand with farmers and ranchers. We want to make Texas first, front and center to receive these resources that are benefitted to you.”
The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, which were suspended last year and reinstated as permanent law with the new farm program, will offer assistance to producers affected by the drought that has damaged livestock and forage for three years or more.
“The program is prorated back to 2011,” Canales said. Also available for signup April 15 will be the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program and the Tree Assistance Program.
Continued drought will likely lead to a large number of Texas livestock producers requesting disaster assistance, she said.
“We have 240 counties in the state with drought designations,” she said. “We have another nine contiguous counties, leaving only five that are not in drought status.”
Dr. Doug Steele, director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said it’s important for everyone to understand the new farm bill. He said the new package has taken a long time to come together and certain aspects of the new program are still being appropriated.
Steele said everyone needs to understand the importance of agriculture.
“Without American agriculture, our world would be starving today,” Steele said.
Steele said Texas A&M AgriLife, composed of AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M Forest Service and the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, is well aware of the grand challenges facing the U.S. and the world – producing enough food and fiber to meet the demands of an expanding population.
The Texas Ag Forum is an association of agricultural leaders and representatives from across the Texas food and fiber system, according to organizers. It was founded nearly 30 years ago to provide a forum for open and public discussion of the problems and emerging issues in agriculture. It is a stakeholder-driven program in partnership with AgriLife Extension.