Emergency Assistance:

Operation of USDA's Livestock Feed Programs

RCED-87-59: Published: Mar 6, 1987. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) emergency livestock feed assistance programs to determine: (1) whether the Emergency Feed Assistance Program (EFAP) was effective in providing a timely response to emergency conditions in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota during 1985 and 1986; (2) the comparative benefits of the Emergency Feed Assistance Program and the Emergency Feed Program (EFP); and (3) the rationale USDA used to select specific emergency programs to respond to particular disaster conditions. GAO also reviewed legislation that proposed to consolidate and improve the various emergency livestock feed programs.

GAO found that: (1) few livestock producers took advantage of EFAP benefits because the grain was not located near the areas that needed it the most and was too costly to transport; (2) USDA should have revised the program benefits sooner to provide more assistance and grain to producers; and (3) in selecting emergency feed assistance, USDA considered the amount of territory affected and the estimated loss. GAO also found that, under EFAP, USDA: (1) provided Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)-owned grain to producers at prescribed prices; (2) limited the available feed to corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, and wheat; (3) provided assistance only for herds that were the producers' primary breeding stock and offspring; (4) needed more time to transport and store grain if the CCC-owned grain was not located in or near the disaster areas; and (5) limited benefits to disasters caused by drought or excessive moisture. GAO found that, under EFP: (1) USDA reimbursed eligible livestock producers for up to 50 percent of the cost of feed that they purchased from commercial sources; (2) producers purchased partial reimbursement for mixed feed, liquid supplements, and hay; (3) USDA provided assistance for all eligible livestock; (4) USDA provided timely assistance as long as feed was commercially available; and (5) USDA benefits covered floods, droughts, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, storms, and other natural disasters. GAO believes that Congress should clarify or add alternative language to the proposed legislation to better accomplish its objectives.

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