Sign-up begins for hay assistance program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2001

Features Editor

Jan. 24, 2001 10 PM

U. S. Sen. Jeff Sessions handed a big $5 million check to Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Charles Bishop at a news conference at the Department of Agriculture and Industries Jan. 8. The purpose of the big bucks was to extend an emergency feed assistance program started by Bishop last June.

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Committees headed by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in each county are taking applications from livestock farmers through Feb. 9. The actual feed assistance will begin as soon as the sign-up program ends and the need for assistance is determined by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

Tammy Powell, county agent coordinator for the Pike County Extension office, and David Carpenter, county agent, said all producers who are in need of assistance with feed for their livestock should come by the Extension Service office and fill out an application as soon as possible.

"The Extension office has been asked to alert producers about the program, provide a place where they can go to fill out the application and to serve on the local committee," Powell said. "Neither the Extension System nor the local committee will make a determination as to which farmers receive the assistance and

how much they receive."

Carpenter said vouchers will be used to secure feed for eligible animals.

"We want to be very sure that producers understand that the program is for brood cows," Carpenter said. "A brood cow in not a bull. It is not a heifer. It is not a calf. Producers who fill out applications are asked to give an accurate number of brood cows. These herds can be checked by the Department of Agriculture and we believe they will be checked, so all producers need to make sure they include only brood cows on the application. I would hate for a producer to be checked and found to have given inaccurate information on the application."

The application is a short form and asks for personal information – name, address, etc. – and livestock information – the number of mature brood animals, including beef cows, dairy cows, nannies and ewes.

Powell said those producers, who are seeking assistance, should keep any receipts from feed they purchased after Jan. 17,

in the event they may be given vouchers for these purchases.

Carpenter said the emergency feed assistance program helped many Pike County farmers keep their herds during the spring and summer drought and could be vital to carrying their herds through the winter.

"I know of several producers who have said they could not have made it without the emergency feed assistance program," Carpenter said. "I know there are a lot of producers in the county who are now beginning to hurt for feed. This program is coming at the right time to help these producers keep their herds through the winter months. Some farmers only have hay for a couple of more weeks.

The situation is critical for many, so we want to encourage producers to come by to the office and fill out an application between now and Feb. 9. Hopefully, soon after that, those who qualify will be notified by mail from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries."

Bishop praised Sen. Sessions for his role in getting the funding for the feed assistance program through Congress and getting the money to Alabama’s farmers as soon as possible."