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Paynesville Press - April 30, 2003

Local livestock producers may qualify for assistance

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Area farmers may qualify for payments from the USDA because of dry conditions in Minnesota in 2001.

Livestock producers from 73 Minnesota counties including Kandiyohi, Meeker, and Stearns, could receive payments based on the number of livestock they had on June 1, 2002, from the USDA's Livestock Compensation Program. Compensation from the program is intended to help farmers in affected areas offset feed costs that may have increased because of the dry conditions.

To be compensated, producers must have maintained livestock in one of the designated counties for at least 90 days, including June 1, 2002.

Livestock that were sold or died after that date are eligible, but producers must provide third-party documentation, such as receipts, for those animals. According to Phyllis Farmstead, manager of the Stearns County Farm Service Agency office, records from the Dairy Herd Improvement Association are acceptable for documenting those animals.

Eligible livestock includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, and beefalo. Producers that had part ownership in livestock or leased livestock may also be eligible.

According to the USDA, adult dairy cows (those having calved at least once before June 1, 2002) and dairy bulls (at least two years old and used for breeding purposes) will be compensated at $31.50 per head.

Beef cattle, buffalo, or beefalo (that have calved at least once and were at least two years old) as well as bulls that were at least two years old will be compensated at the rate of $18 per head.

Bulls less than two years old, steers, non-breeding heifers, replacement heifers, and other heifers must have weighed 500 pounds to be compensated at $13.50 per head.

Sheep and goats that were raised to produce meat, wool, hair, or skin will be paid at $4.50 per head.

To help producers understand the program, the Stearns County Farm Service Agency office will hold an informational meeting at the Paynesville Area Center on Wednesday, April 30, at 10 a.m. Producers can get detailed information about the program, instructions on filling out application forms, and turn in completed applications at that time.

Farmers can also apply for the program through the Farm Service Agency office in their respective county.

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