Sign-ups for producers seeking assistance for livestock or forage losses as a result of natural disasters are going smoothly two weeks after the assistance enrollment was opened.
Farm Service Agency Administratior Juan Garcia says the USDA has provided nearly $5 million in aid to more than 13,000 affected producers so far.
The majority of the benefits issued have been through the Livestock Forage Program, Garcia explained in a USDA interview, with close to 800 producers that have already seen payments.
Many offices are recommending producers make an appointment to discuss enrollment in the program; some offices are already booked for up to a month, USDA said.
Much of the demand is likely because the program eligibility is retroactive to October, 2011. Eligible producers can sign up for assistance until January 30, 2015.
Related: Good Records Key To Disaster Aid
"In previous years, we had shorter sign-up periods," Garcia said, but USDA adds the expiration of programs in 2011, implementation of the new farm bill in 2014, and need to accept claims from 2011 were all factors in the decision.
"We decided to have a longer sign-up period because we do realize we're looking at three years of information that producers have to bring in," Garcia said. "We just wanted producers to have enough time."
Even with the extension, producers are encouraged to set up an appointment as soon as possible with their local FSA office.
The assistance, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, includes the LFD program and the Livestock Indemnity Programs. Click here for tips on signing up for USDA livestock assistance.