The USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program provides funds to livestock farmers who suffer grazing losses on account of extended drought conditions. This year’s drought has impacted our region and qualified some farmers for this benefit. Those in Litchfield, Hartford, Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin Counties are qualified for assistance and can apply with their local FSA office BEFORE JANUARY 30th.
The situation in Berkshire County is more complicated: we met the qualifications for this program, but the federal offices had the wrong grazing dates for Massachusetts, so the program has not been triggered in this area (that is, the program requires 8 consecutive weeks at a certain level of drought; we hit 8 weeks on Nov. 8 but the Washington office had our grazing period ending on September 30 – instead of November 30 – so farmers from the Berkshires have not been able to apply). Our local FSA office has been working for 2 months to try to get this fixed and that work is ongoing. They believe it will be resolved but the application period closes on Jan 30th, so we’re now up against a time crunch. The Berkshire FSA office in Pittsfield is starting to process manual applications for farmers, anticipating that the federal office will allow them to submit those before the end of the month. If you had grazing land in Berkshire County this year and suffered losses on account of the drought, you should call Deb Senger at the Pittsfield FSA office (contact below) to get started on these applications ASAP. A quick summary of this program is available in this fact sheet from the USDA.
Deb Senger, Berkshire County Executive Director, FSA
Columbia County and Vermont have not qualified for the program this year.