Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced that USDA has begun making $103 million in payments for the Livestock Assistance Program.

“This program will provide relief to livestock producers who suffered grazing losses in 2001 or 2002 due to drought, severe weather and related causes,” said Veneman in a statement that accompanied the announcement.

Sign-up for the Livestock Assistance Program, which was authorized by the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003, began Aug. 6 and ended Nov. 21, 2003. The 2003 Act made funds available to livestock producers who suffered grazing losses in either 2001 or 2002.

Under LAP, a producer's grazing land must be located in a county that was declared a primary disaster area under a presidential or secretarial declaration. The county must have been approved after Jan. 1, 2001, and a designation requested no later than Feb. 20, 2003, and subsequently approved.

LAP is a grazing loss program. Payments are provided on a per head basis of eligible livestock, including beef and dairy cattle, buffalo, beefalo, sheep, goats, swine and certain equine animals.

During 2001 or 2002, a livestock producer must have suffered a 40 percent or greater loss of grazing production for three or more consecutive months due to drought, hot weather, disease, insect infestation, flood, fire, hurricane, earthquake, severe storm or other natural disasters.

The 2003 Act required that an adjusted gross income limitation of $2.5 million apply. LAP payments to a producer have been reduced by the amount of assistance received by that producer under previous Livestock Compensation Programs (LCP-I, LCP-II) and the 2002 Cattle Feed Program. A $40,000 payment limitation also applies to LAP assistance.