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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (in center) met with families on Dec 29, 2021, following the aftermath of a wildfire that hit Russell, Ellis, Osborne and Rooks counties. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Laura Kelly's office.)

Farmers and ranchers in four Kansas counties hit by a Dec. 15, 2021, windstorm and wildfire are learning about the availability of relief programs.

On Dec. 29 a meeting was conducted in Natoma. Todd Barrows, an agricultural program specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farm Service Agency, Manhattan, Kansas, provided an overview of the Livestock Indemnity Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program, which provide payments that are based on 75% of a fair market value on the livestock as determined by Commodity Credit Corporation. That goes for livestock owners and eligible contract growers.

The payment rates for eligible beef owners: adult bull—$1,195.31 per head; cow—$919.47 per head. For nonadult, weighing less than 250 pounds—$163.15 per head; 250 to 399 pounds—$441.45 per head; 400 to 799 pounds—$609.53 per head; 800 pounds or more—$1,015.88 per head.

The Kansas Forest Service estimated nearly 165,000 acres were impacted by wildfire Dec. 15. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly directed the Kansas National Guard and Kansas Forest Service to deploy aerial assets to the affected areas to assist with fire suppression efforts in multiple counties with active wildfires. Kelly and Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam recently met with Kansas farmers and ranchers affected by the fires—including the Maupin family in northwest Russell County. They lost cattle, fences, hay and their home in the fire.

“Today, I had the opportunity to meet with Kansans impacted by the wildfires to discuss how best the state of Kansas can support their recovery,” Kelly said. “While our farmers and ranchers have persevered through challenges, we know the storm and wildfires caused significant damage to homes, livestock and crops—so it’s critical that we mobilize all of the available resources to aid their recovery.”

“It’s heartwarming to witness how neighbors have pulled together to help each other during these times of need,” Beam said. “We are also grateful to see the tremendous volume of hay and monetary donations that have come in from outside this region and from other states as well.”

Government help

Barrows said with the Livestock Indemnity Program, participants must maintain any books, records and accounts supporting the application information for three years following the end of the year for which the request was submitted. Livestock owners or contract growers must file in the service center in the county where the loss occurred and file a notice of loss within 30 calendar days of when the loss was first apparent (Dec. 15, 2021 to Jan. 14, 2022) and the application for payment must be made within 60 calendar days after the calendar year in which the losses occurred, or March 1.

Barrows noted the importance of required documentation. Required documentation includes on the death and injury and beginning inventory. Acceptable proof of death includes rendering truck receipts, Federal Emergency Management Agency records, National Guard records, veterinary records, records assembled for tax purposes, private insurance documents and bank or other loan documents. Also, contemporaneous records existing at the time of the event, pictures with a date, brand inspection records and herd improvement records.

The livestock must have been owned by an eligible owner or be in possession of an eligible contract grower on the day of the eligible loss condition and when the livestock died. The livestock must have been produced or maintained for commercial use for livestock sale. There are provisions for if a livestock producer had to sell injured animals at a reduced rate but they require documentation that includes third-party report, plus the weight, kind, type and price received. Verified reports can include sales receipts from a livestock auction or similar sales facility, private insurance documents and processing plant receipt.

Other important provisions are if the death is in excess of normal mortality or if the injured due to an eligible loss condition were sold through an independent third party no later than 30 calendar days after the ending date of the applicable eligible loss condition. The independent third parties include a sale barn, slaughter facility and rendering facility.

Producers need to keep evidence and documentation for followup with the Farm Service Agency.

Only animals that are or were born and were alive at the time of the eligible loss condition are potentially eligible for LIP. Unborn animals or animals that are not born alive (aborted or stillborn) are not considered eligible.

Livestock considered eligible are adult or nonadult beef cattle, adult or nonadult beefalo or bison, adult or nonadult buffalo, adult or nonadult dairy cattle, elk, alpacas, caribou, deer, emus, equine animals, goats, llamas, poultry including egg-producing poultry, reindeer, sheep and swine.

Unweaned livestock death losses will be considered a nonadult for the specific livestock kind, type and weight range due to an eligible loss condition if all the following apply:

• They are expected to survive under normal conditions; and

• The death was directly caused by an eligible loss condition.

Ineligible livestock under the program are animals produced or maintained for reasons other than commercial use as part of a farming operation including, but not limited to, recreational purposes, consumption by owner, hunting, pets, pleasure, roping and show. Other ineligible livestock are animals that died due to management decisions, stillborn livestock, unborn livestock. For example, if a pregnant adult beef cow died before the birth of the calf, only the pregnant cow may be considered eligible for payment. The unborn calf is not eligible livestock and must be excluded from beginning inventory.

An eligible livestock owner is one who had production and market risk associated with the agricultural production of livestock and had legal ownership of eligible livestock for which benefits are requested. He or she must be a United States citizen or legal resident alien in the U.S., a partnership comprising U.S. citizens or legal residents in the U.S., a corporation, limited liability corporation or company, or other organization structure established under state law; and an Indian tribe or organization.

Other livestock-related sources

Kansas producers affected by recent wildfires and severe storms need to complete an application to be considered for relief funds from the Kansas Livestock Foundation. The deadline for completed applications is Jan. 31. Questions on the application ask about livestock and fence lost, grazing acres burned and veterinary costs to treat sick and injured animals. Applicants do not have to be Kansas Livestock Association members. KLF has a proven process to equitably distribute donated funds. The application is available at www.kla.org/Media/KLA/Docs/fire-relief-application.pdf or by calling the KLA office at 785-273-5115.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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