Farmers and ranchers who lost livestock as a result of adverse weather — including hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 — may be eligible for federal disaster payments, according to an economist with the LSU AgCenter.

The 2008 farm bill established three livestock-related disaster payment programs, and rules have been finalized for the first program — the Livestock Indemnity program, said Ross Pruitt.

The program provides livestock producers and contract poultry growers with payments for livestock losses resulting from adverse weather conditions, which include hurricanes, lightning strikes, floods, blizzards, weather-induced disease, wildfire, extreme heat and extreme cold.

“Weather-related losses in 2008 qualify for this indemnity program,” Pruitt said. “Producers must file a notice of loss and complete an application package by Sept. 13, 2009.”

Producers who had losses between Jan. 1 and July 12, 2009, must file a notice of loss by Sept. 13, 2009, and submit a completed application package by Jan. 30, 2010.

“All decisions regarding whether or not a weather event qualifies are made by the local Farm Service Agency office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Pruitt said.

Animal deaths within 60 days following a qualifying weather event are eligible for the program.

“As an example, Hurricane Gustav made landfall on Sept 1, 2008, and any livestock deaths that occurred from that date until Oct. 30, 2008, could potentially qualify as a weather-related livestock death.”

Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office to begin the application process and get answers to any questions they might have, Pruitt said.