USDA agrees to adjust 2017 compensation for bison losses

Bison association commends Sens. Bennet, rounds for assisting in decision

The National Bison Association today commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to increase in the Livestock Indemnity Program compensation rates offered to producers suffering losses in 2017 and thanked two U.S. Senators for their assistance in facilitating that decision.

USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey informed U.S. Sens Michael Bennet, D-CO, and Mike Rounds, R-SD, earlier this week that the USDA Farm Service Agency would be using a revised model to determine the compensation to producers filing claims for eligible death losses in 2017. The Senators had contacted the USDA at the request of the National Bison Association.
LIP is designed to provide producers with 75 percent of market value from losses incurred from covered events, such as drought or fire. However, producers filing claims for losses incurred in 2017 were offered compensation rates of about 25 percent of market value.
After the National Bison Association contacted the USDA with information regarding actual market prices, the USDA Farm Service Agency agreed to revise its methodology for determining the value of live bison for 2018 and future years. Tuesday’s announcement assures that producers suffering losses in 2017 will receive compensation based on the new methodology.
"This is great news for bison producers in Colorado and across the country," said Bennet. "After hearing about the unfair compensation rates in 2017, we asked USDA to use their recently updated model to reevaluate 2017 claims. We’re pleased that Undersecretary Northey was so responsive and is now taking steps to correct discrepancies from the USDA’s multi-year delay in updating rates. Our amendment to the Senate Farm Bill will ensure such a delay will not happen in the future."
"South Dakota is the top state for bison production," said Rounds. "Our producers shouldn’t be unfairly punished for the federal government’s failure to update its payment mechanisms in a timely manner. With record bison losses in 2017, we appreciate Undersecretary Northery’s efforts in recognizing the importance of updating the LIP’s compensation formula and continuing to support our bison producers during times of hardship."
National Bison Association Executive Director Dave Carter said, "We thank Under Secretary Northey and the USDA Farm Service Agency for agreeing to rectify this inequity in the Livestock Indemnity Program. And, we are especially appreciative of the bipartisan leadership offered by Senators Bennet and Rounds to help convince the USDA to implement this change."
In a related development, Senators Bennet and John Thune, R-SD, successfully offered an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill directing the Secretary of Agriculture to work with the bison industry to update the market information utilized to establish LIP compensation rates.
"We are pleased that the bill approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee this week contains this provision, which will assure that real-time market values are utilized as the basis for LIP compensation rates," noted Carter.