SAN FRANCISCO, May 19, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Humane Farming Association (HFA) announced the filing of a petition with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to cease Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) payments to producers who fail to protect their livestock from adverse weather. The Farm Service Agency (FSA)'s LIP provides compensation to livestock producers who incur death losses from inclement weather. Producers receive compensation in the amount of 75 percent of the animals' market value up to $125,000 per year.
Records obtained by HFA under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) revealed that from 2013 through 2015, LIP issued payments of $134,140,346 to farmers and ranchers for animal deaths due primarily to weather-related issues. Total animal deaths included a staggering 202,445 livestock and 2,461,443 poultry.
"Each year, millions of cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, and other livestock in the United States are provided little or no shelter from adverse weather," said HFA National Director Bradley Miller. "Whether on private pasture, in feed- or dry lots, or on public lands, these animals are subjected to prolonged suffering and agonizing deaths."
A case in point: Winter Storm Goliath, which ripped through the southwestern United States beginning on December 26, 2015, 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, snow 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 during the snow event. Animals who live on dry lots year round without adequate shelter were subjected to 80 mph wind gusts and were buried under snow drifts for days, most suffocating, many freezing to death, and still others suffering from frostbite only to die in subsequent days and weeks.
"Instead of providing adequate shelter to vulnerable livestock, producers who do not provide protections from adverse weather are rewarded with a government check," said Miller. "Compensating producers for dead livestock without ever requiring adequate shelter serves as a disincentive for producers to take the necessary steps to provide their animals with protection from inclement weather. If not for this compensation, many producers would no doubt make a better effort to provide for their animals. Instead, massive numbers of neglected livestock are dying painfully and needlessly and taxpayers are footing the bill."
The Humane Farming Association, based in San Rafael, CA, is the nation's most credible and effective organization dedicated to the protection of farm animals. Founded in 1985, and over 250,000 members strong, HFA's goals are to protect farm animals from cruelty, abuse, and neglect. HFA also operates Suwanna Ranch, the nation's largest farm animal sanctuary.
Media Inquiries Contact: Gail Eisnitz, HFA Chief Investigator, (415) 485-1495
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SOURCE Humane Farming Association