FSA Administrator, Zach Ducheneaux, Working to Continuously Improve Assistance Programs for Cattle Producers

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is featuring comments from the administrator of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Zach Ducheneaux, at the recent R-CALF USA annual meeting in Deadwood, South Dakota during his Q&A with the audience where he spoke about livestock provisions from the 2018 farm bill and what the FSA has been able to do regarding disaster assistance for livestock and cattle producers.

“The things that we have done in the livestock segment- the resources that we offer producers through the ELAP (Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm raised Fish) program to haul feed and cows where feed or cows are needed, we were able to find that statutory authority within the existing farm bill and disaster programs,” Ducheneaux said. “The change we made to LIP (Livestock Indemnity Program) recently in recognition to the investment that you all make in a baby calf hitting the ground, instead of paying you $150, we have more than doubled that payment because we had the latitude laid out and the flexibility offered to us in the farm bill and in disaster statures.”

Ducheneaux said he is also proud of the fact that FSA now has the ability to pay some of the freight on hauling forage to producers’ cow herds.

“Secretary Vilsack went out there and charged us with addressing some of these things, so when we made that change to ELAP, after talking with Senator Hoeven’s office about how we could improve that for producers in North Dakota during the drought- well yeah, we can actually help pay some of the freight on getting the forage that isn’t in this place to work where your cows are,” Ducheneaux said.

Ducheneaux said his FSA team is working on ways to streamline applications for the Livestock Risk Protection Program.

“One of the things I envision us being able to do is work with cattlemen to get a better understanding annually of what your inventory is like,” Ducheneaux said. “Not RFID- you come in, sign a piece of paper, and say these are my numbers. When you hit eight weeks plus one day of the D3 drought, we can do a payment to you like we did ELRP (Emergency Livestock Relief Program). You have an acreage report in, we know how many cows you got out there, you are enrolled just like a farmer would be with their acreage and their crop so that the payments can automatically happen.”

The last thing producers need after an 8-week drought, Ducheneaux said, is a 6-month waiting period to receive the drought assistance they are entitled to.

“We are trying to find ways to streamline that for the betterment of producers,” Ducheneaux said.

Another question the Ducheneaux was asked had to do with the CRP (Conservation Reserve Program), somehow being tied into the Joe Biden 30×30 plan. The questioner wanted to know how to avoid such entanglement. Ducheneaux communicated to the crowd that these programs are voluntary.

“An important thing to understand is 30×30 or America the Beautiful or CRP- these are all voluntary incentive-based programs and it’s not about taking possession of the land- it is about enabling producers to have some access to conservation dollars on that land and help you all have an income stream for a rental payment for doing the conservation practices if you chose to, or access federal cost share dollars to help do the things that you can’t afford to because you are getting 11 cents for every food dollar to the farm gate,” Ducheneaux said.

While there is a lot of confusion about those programs and if they are voluntary, Ducheneaux said he is a big fan of the CRP program.

“I think we should do more of it and I think we should actually take a look at enhancing the working lands aspect of CRP which is what we do with our grassland CRP program where we have got a lot of acres enrolled to help producers do more thoughtful management of their grazing and receive some compensation for that as well,” Ducheneaux said.”

Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Zach Ducheneaux on FSA assistance programs for cattle producers.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.