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Prolonged or intense drought triggers relief options through Livestock Forage Program
Dealing with drought

Prolonged or intense drought triggers relief options through Livestock Forage Program

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Cattle graze Nebraska

Cattle on the Diamond Bar Ranch north of Stapleton, Neb., in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Nearly 86% of Nebraska is experiencing moderate drought or worse, and that nearly 12% of the state is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map this fall.

Prolonged or intense droughts during normal grazing periods can negatively impact resources that livestock owners and contract growers depend on. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency offers a relief program meant to help offset forage loss, and it is triggered by the Drought Monitor.

The Livestock Forage Program (LFP) provides payments to eligible livestock owners and contract growers who have suffered a loss of grazed forage due to a qualifying drought during the normal grazing period as determined on a county basis.

The U.S. Drought Monitor ( is a weekly product that analyzes drought conditions across the U.S. and its territories. The Drought Monitor is housed online by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources. Drought Monitor authors synthesize data from dozens of monitoring resources, collaborate with on-the-ground experts and determine and validate whether or not an area is in drought or not, and if so, how severe it is. Conditions are categorized on a scale from abnormal dryness (D0, which is not yet drought) to exceptional drought (D4). LFP eligibility is based in part on those categories.

If an eligible livestock owner or contract grower who, as a grazed forage crop producer, owns or leases grazing land or pastureland physically located in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor has experienced severe drought (D2) for at least eight consecutive weeks during the normal grazing period, they are eligible to receive assistance in an amount equal to one monthly payment. They are eligible for assistance of an amount equal to three monthly payments if they experience extreme drought (D3) in any area of the county at any point during the normal grazing period. They are eligible for four monthly payments if they experience extreme drought for at least four weeks or exceptional drought (D4) at any time. Experiencing exceptional drought for four weeks during the normal grazing period qualifies for an amount equal to five monthly payments.

“Since implemented as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, the U.S. Drought Monitor has triggered over $7.3 billion in federal relief to livestock producers through the Livestock Forage Program,” said Drought Monitor Author and National Drought Mitigation Center climatologist Brian Fuchs. “The 2020 drought has been the most significant Nebraskans have seen since 2012-2013, and it has triggered relief options in several Nebraska counties already.”

To learn more about eligibility for the Livestock Forage Program, view the Farm Service Agency’s LFP fact sheet. To search maps that show qualifying counties for qualifying types of forage, visit the LFP website.

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