HELP FOR ALABAMA CATTLEMEN ON THE WAY
Help should be on the way soon to Alabama cattlemen whose herds have been devastated by this year's drought. U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions joined Alfa Farmers President Jerry Newby, Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bishop and Alabama Cattlemen's Association Executive Director Billy Powell at a news conference Tuesday morning at the State Department of Agriculture and Industries. The senator was responsible for inserting $5 million earmarked for Alabama cattlemen in the proposed agriculture appropriations bill that has been sent to the president for his signature.
The money will be used to extend the hay lift program initiated earlier this year by Commissioner Bishop and the Department of Agriculture and Industries. However, Bishop said the money will be used to directly reimburse farmers who will have to buy supplemental feed for their cattle.
"We saved several brood cow herds in our state with this program already," Bishop said. "This money will be in addition to the $3.6 billion relief that is expected to be approved."
Bishop said the criteria for receiving the supplemental feed assistance money is still to be determined, but added that it will be statewide and will take into consideration the devastation on each farm and the number of cattle. As in the original program, committees will be established in each county to help assure compliance with the program.
Other farm agencies such as the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the USDA Farm Service Agency also will be involved in the application process, Bishop said.
Sessions said the $5 million is especially important because it could preserve seed stock for many cattle farms in the state.
"When cattlemen are forced to prematurely draw down their herds, it could substantially damage the cattle industry in the state," Session said. "We needed this money earmarked for Alabama to avoid delays which sometimes occur with feed assistance programs. We hope to see the money in the hands of our cattlemen within a few weeks."
Newby praised the efforts of Sessions and Bishop in assisting Alabama cattlemen.
"Some farmers had to sell calves a little light this year, but hopefully this money will allow them to keep their brood cows so they will have calves to sell next year," Newby said.