Disaster payments for forage losses due to severe drought are being distributed to ranchers who qualified for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announces. Ranchers with 2008 losses can still apply for program payments until Dec. 10. Those with 2009 losses must apply by Jan. 30, 2010.

"These payments will help producers recover from financial setbacks due to drought," says Vilsack.

The first LFP payments were issued to ranchers in two of the hardest-hit disaster counties in the nation: Wilson and Guadalupe counties in Texas. These payments will compensate ranchers who suffered extreme drought losses in 2008 and 2009 and will help them provide feed for livestock this fall. Producers in all counties that have suffered severe, extreme or exceptional drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor are encouraged to visit their local Farm Service Agency county office to apply for assistance under LFP.

LFP provides payments to eligible livestock producers who have suffered livestock grazing losses due to qualifying drought or fire. Eligible livestock under LFP include beef cattle, alpacas, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, horses, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep and swine. Losses due to drought and qualifying drought ratings are determined using the U.S. Drought Monitor.