Taken from The Humane Farming Association – Campaign Against Factory Farming-Spring 2017
Stop Taxpayer-Funded Payments to Producers Who Neglect Animals
Just over a year ago, Winter Storm Goliath ripped through the southwestern United States and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of dairy cattle, calves, and other farm animals in western Texas and eastern New Mexico. With 18 inches of snow on the ground, drifts as high as 14 feet, and wind pushing animals into fenced corners where they were literally buried alive in drifts, an estimated 40,000 cows and calves perished.
Animals who live on dry lots year round without adequate shelter were subjected to 80 mph wind gusts and were buried under snow for days, suffocating, many freezing to death, and still others suffering from frostbite only to die in subsequent days and weeks.
Instead of providing the shelter needed to protect vulnerable farm animals, producers merely chalked up the number of those who perished and then were rewarded with a government check.
The Humane Farming Association [HFA] is known throughout the nation and, indeed, throughout the world for leading successful campaigns against factory farming. Our work, however, extends far beyond the cramped quarters of intensive confinement facilities.
HFA is committed to preventing animal cruelty whenever-and wherever-it occurs. Each year, millions of cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, and other farm animals in the United States are provided little to no shelter from severe weather. As a result, tens of thousands of neglected animals suffer and die needlessly from exposure to the elements.
Presently, the USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program provides payments to livestock producers whose animals suffer weather-related deaths. These wasteful and gratuitous taxpayer-funded payments serve as a disincentive for producers to take the steps needed to protect their animals from harsh, and often lethal, weather. That’s why HFA is taking action.
The Humane Farming Association has filed a formal petition with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging him to stop ththese government payments to livestock producers who do not protect their animals. If compensation is made available al all, the USDA should only provide it to those who have put protections in place to shelter the animals in their care.
With a new administration hoping to demonstrate that it is committed to reducing government waste- HFA is now making the case that ending these wasteful and unethical federal handouts to the livestock industry is the appropriate place to start.
Documents uncovered by HFA under the Freedome of Information Act have revealed that, in the last three years, the USDA issued payments of well over $134 million dollars to farmers and ranchers for animal deaths due to severe weather. Total animal deaths included a staggering 202,445 hoofed animals and 2,461,443 poultry.
If not for this compensation, livestock producers would be compelled to provide the necessary care for their animals. Instead, massive numbers of neglected farm animals are dying painfully and needlessly – while taxpayers are footing the bill.
As we go to press, HFA is releasing new videos exposing this issue [which you can see only at HFA.org] You can take action on line by signing our petition demanding an end to this cruel and wasteful federal program.
We have a very real opportunity to make significant advances on behalf of farm animals. Please support our work by making the most generous contribution you can today – so that farm animals receive the protection they so desperately need and deserve. Thank you!
Bradley Miller/National Director
IN THE NEWS – FARM WORLD
Humane Farming Association Calls for End to Livestock Indemnity Payments, By Michele E. Mihaljevich
Washington D.C. The Humane Farming Association [HFA] is petitioning the USDA to stop indemnity payments to producers who don’t protect their livestock from severe weather.
In its petition the organization asks USDA to halt livestock indemnity program [LIP] benefits to farmers and ranchers for livestock deaths caused by adverse weather – including blizzards, hurricanes, hail, extreme heat, and extreme cold- when adequate protections are not put into place.
“We beleve that if compensation is made available, the Farm Service Agency [FSA] should only provide it to those who have put protections in place to shelter the animals in their care, “the petition states.
The FSA oversees LIP payments. The program provides benefits to producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather, according to the USDA. Payments are calculated by multiplying the national payment rate for each livestock category by the numbers of eligible livestock in each category, the agency explained.
The USDA’s [initial] response was written by Alexis M. Taylor, deputy undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. “The significant financial consequences to farmers and ranchers that can result from livestock losses due to sudden weather events exceeds the financial assistance available from USDA programs such as LIP,” she said in the letter.
“For example, LIP is limited to 75 percent of the market value of the livestock. Such economic losses are a strong incentive for agricultural producers to provide appropriate shelter or protection for livestock or poultry during adverse weather conditions,”said Taylor.
That response sidesteps the issues raised by HFA, said Bradley Miller, the organization’s national director.
“This is a real slap in the face to taxpayers,” he noted. “[Taylor] failed to address any of the important issues raised, including the concern that livestock producers are receiving millions of taxpayer dollars when not providing adequate shelter for their animals.
“We now intent to up the pressue on USDA by initiating a grassroots letter-writing campaign, releasing a video expose on the issue, and working with Congress on this critical issue. HFA stands firm in its belief that farmers and ranchers shuld not be compensated for animal deaths from inclement weather unless producers have done everything possible to protect the animals in their care.”
In its petition, HFA cited the example of a winter storm that hit the southwestern United States in late December 2015. More than thirty thousand 30,000 dairy cows were killed in Texas and New Mexico, according to media reports. The storm produced strong winds and drifts as high as 14 feet. Many of the animals were buried alive, HFA said in the petition. HFA argued that, if natural landscape doesn’t provide protection from severe weather, facilities such as run-in sheds, windbreaks, or other barriers must be installed. Compensating for dead livestock without adequate shelter is a disincentive to producers to take steps to protect animals from severe weather, the organization said.