With the drought affecting ranching families across North Dakota this year, the Farm Service Agency encourages ranchers to take advantage of the Livestock Forage Program (LFP).

According to FSA, LFP “provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing.”

The grazing losses must be due to qualifying drought conditions during the normal grazing period for the county, states the USDA’s fact sheet. North Dakota has more than 15 counties still experiencing severe drought, according to the drought monitor.

FSA Program Director Brad Olson has been working for FSA since 1983, residing in his current position since 2012.

Olson said one of the biggest struggles with getting people signed up is filling out the appropriate paperwork. Ranchers need to have an acreage report for the specific grazing land on file.

“Farmers don’t generally report that because it’s not cropland, but this program requires it,” Olson said. “That has to be completed before we start the application.”

Keeping an up-to-date acreage report among a rancher’s records means a faster process for all parties involved.

“We’re trying to get everybody in the habit of reporting acres,” Olson said. “No matter if it’s LFP or not, we need it to get them certified so they’re taken care of if they need the program again.”

For ranchers leasing land, a copy of the lease will also be necessary. Ranchers renting grazing land must be listed on the lease.

Olson said it’s important to contact the local FSA office to ensure the correct documentation.

To learn more about the program or find out about eligibility and payments, visit www.fsa.usda.gov. To calculate what your payment might be, go to www.ag.ndsu.edu/farmmanagement/farm-bill.

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU