It was a terrific but deadly lightning show when massive bolts of energy lit up the skies in a dramatic storm a few days before Labor Day in 2010. Forty head of cows huddled in the open on Noel and Wendal Rogers’ farm near Rogersville, Mo. The next morning singed hair on five dead cows and heifers told the story.
But it wasn’t a total loss for the Rogers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency reimbursed the father and son for at least part of their loss. They qualified for a Livestock Indemnity Program payment. According to Tim Kennemer, FSA county executive director for Christian, Taney, Stone, Douglas and Ozark Counties, LIP is basically a federal insurance policy for small farmers and producers. It applies even if a producer has private insurance.
LIP is for livestock deaths that exceed normal mortality caused by bad weather. The program expires Oct. 1, 2011, but if you lose livestock before then due to extreme heat or cold, tornado, lightning, flood, wildfire and other natural events, you may, like the Rogers, get some money back for your animals.
What animals qualify? Just about any animal raised for production versus for pleasure qualifies:  the obvious cattle, swine, poultry, sheep and goats, but also alpacas, deer, elk, emus, llamas, reindeer and horses (the latter only if working animals). Pets, show animals and animals raised for hunting don’t qualify. Animals that die from broken legs, a vehicle collision, birthing or poisoning don’t qualify either.
What are the other requirements? Kennemer emphasized the importance of reporting the losses within 30 days of the deaths and documenting them with photos, proof of ownership and a third-party statement from a vet, neighbor or another non-owner. Then bring the information to a FSA office and apply for LIP.
How much are the payments? Though payments are the same throughout the country, each state has a committee that sets mortality rates for each type of livestock.
USDA calculates LIP payments by multiplying the national payment rate for each livestock category by the number of eligible livestock. Payments for dairy cows are different from beef cows, and payments of heifers different from adult cows. Payments cover 75 percent of the fair market value of the qualifying livestock.
Wendal Rogers encouraged farmers to look at LIP if they have any suspicious livestock deaths following bad weather even if they have private insurance.
“I’d take pictures, have the vet come out and take the information to the FSA office,” he said. “Cattle are costing so much now, they’re hard to replace. Don’t take any chances on missing out on a payment if you have any suspicions after a natural disaster.”


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