WASHINGTON - Umatilla County's livestock producers got good news from the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Anne M. Veneman Wednesday but they'll have to move quickly to take advantage of it.

In a continued effort to expedite emergency assistance to areas hard hit by drought, Veneman designated Umatilla County along with counties in nine other states as an area of primary disaster in an announcement made on Thursday.

"This is exciting because we can address a need that exists in a sector where we normally don't have much to offer in the way of assistance," said Kent Willett, County Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency in Umatilla County.

But in order for livestock producers to receive compensation they need to have completed applications filed by Friday, Dec. 13, giving producers just three weeks to take advantage of the program which could offer enough financial help to prevent the sale of valuable foundation livestock.

"We're the ones under the gun on this one," Willett said.

Approximately $752 million was made available to producers of beef and dairy cattle, goats, sheep, beefalo and buffalo producers nationwide when the Livestock Compensation Program was originally announced in mid-September. As of Nov. 20, applications for LCP benefits have been received from and payments made to more than 310,000 livestock producers in 41 drought impacted states.

The designation as a primary disaster county and the implementation of the LCP will represent a first for Umatilla livestock producers, many of whom have not been eligible for assistance previously available through federal and state programs in the past.

"There have been emergency feed programs in the past," said OSU extension agent Randy Mills. "But in the 18 years I've been here this will be the first time cattlemen have really qualified for any sort of help."

Program payments are based on the standard feed consumption data for each eligible type of livestock. The types of livestock and payment rates are as follows:

Beef Cows, $18 per head; Dairy Cows, $31.50 per head; Stockers, $13.50 per head; Buffalo and Beefalo, $18 per head; Goats, $4.50 per head; Sheep $4.50 per head.

More information about the program can be obtained by accessing the United State Department of Agriculture's Web Site at http:// www.usda.gov or by calling the Farm Service Agency office at 278-8048 ext. 2.

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