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Published October 17, 2013, 05:48 PM

FSA, RMA return to work

With the federal shutdown over, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency will do all it can to help ranchers who lost livestock in the October blizzard, says Aaron Krauter, state executive director of the North Dakota FSA.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

With the federal shutdown over, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency will do all it can to help ranchers who lost livestock in the October blizzard, says Aaron Krauter, state executive director of the North Dakota FSA.

However, the federal livestock indemnification program, which compensates ranchers for weather-related livestock losses, expired Oct. 1. So FSA can’t process rancher applications for compensation.

But Krauter is optimistic that a new farm bill, one that reauthorizes the program and funding for it, will be approved and made retroactive to cover losses from the October blizzard.

Now, ranchers who hope to receive such compensation need to obtain third-party verification of their losses.

The FSA can provide what Krauter calls “measurement services” for ranchers. The agency, for a fee of $48 and mileage, will send an employee to take photographs and collect other documentation of the loss.

Third-party verification also could be provided by veterinarians or county extension agents, among others, Krauter says.

Ranchers with questions or concerns should contact their local FSA office, Krauter says.

The FSA will tell producers what the guidelines were for qualifying for the program in the past.

“More than likely they (guidelines for a new program, if approved) will be very similar,” he says.

The reopening of Risk Management Agency offices on Oct. 17 once again gives private insurers access to RMA records, Doug Hagel, director of the RMA regional office in Billings, Mont., tells Agweek.

The agency administers the federal crop insurance program. Private companies sell and service crop insurance policies.

During the shutdown, private crop insurers generally processed claims as usual. But the insurers were unable to verify some information through RMA records, a normal part of the claims process. That led to concern about potential delays in sending out claim checks, a concern that the reopening of RMA offices should resolve.

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