Mar 02 2001


 U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) today urged the Agriculture Department to extend the closing date for the Livestock Assistance Program to accommodate drought stricken North and Central Alabama farmers.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ann Veneman, Senator Shelby urged the USDA to reexamine its closing date for the Livestock Assistance Program (LAP). The current closing date for the program is set 14 days after the first frost/freeze date and applies to all regions of the country unless an exception is applied. For Alabama this means that the closing date for the Livestock Assistance Program will be November 15 rather than the December 31 date that was applied in previous years. In North and Central Alabama, livestock grazing without supplemental feeding can extend significantly past this deadline.

"I hope the USDA will reconsider its blanket approach to close-out dates for the Livestock Assistance Program," said Shelby. "Alabama producers have suffered greatly at the hands of mother nature and the purpose of the LAP is to assist producers during times such as these. Setting the close-out date for the LAP this early will further contribute to the devastation experienced by Alabama producers. In many cases this will deny a full 45 days of feed assistance. This decision could cost the average small producer more than $500 in lost assistance."

The Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) and Dr. David Bransby, an Auburn University Agronomist, have also submitted information and letters supporting Senator Shelby's request to extend the closing date.