Livestock farmers seek safety net, while Washington politics delay aid

Aug 2, 2012

Farmers growing crops have insurance to ward off the financial failure of their season during this terrible drought. But there’s no safety net like that in place for livestock producers. And any emergency aid is tied up in Washington politics.

The rock and the hard place where Stacey McCallister now sits looks like this:

Rock: McCallister’s herd of 200 dairy cattle in south central Missouri have feed for about the next 60 days.

Hard place: He was turned down for a low-interest loan at a USDA office because they have to wait until after he files his taxes. That leaves him wondering – why can’t a farmer get immediate help this summer during a natural disaster?

“If this was Katrina, they’re not going to go down there and say, ‘You know what? Let’s wait ‘til you do your taxes and see if you really got a loss. It’s a slow Katrina and it’s killing us,” said McCallister.

Emergency drought relief died in programs that expired last year. And aid for this year is pending in the 2012 Farm Bill. That’s been tied up by House Speaker John Boehner who wants more cuts to food stamp programs. Angry farm state reps facing a trip home for the August recess persuaded Boehner to reconsider. He’s promised some help this week. But that’s only if a quick, short-term extension to the current Farm Bill gets passed before Congress goes home.