Beebe earmarks $2 million to aid drought-stricken ranchers


LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe announced Wednesday he has released $2 million from his office’s Quick Action Fund to help ranchers suffering from economic losses during the current drought.

The Livestock Assistance Grant Program will help cattle, sheep and goat producers grow or afford hay and other forage for their animals, the governor’s office said in a release.

The program will be administered by the Arkansas Agriculture Department and payments will be made on a per-head basis for qualifying livestock producers who apply in the next two weeks.

Applications must be filed online, hand-delivered or postmarked by Aug. 29.

The program is not first-come, first-served, the governor’s office said.

Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, praised the governor’s decision, saying the drought had pushed livestock producers into a crisis situation.

“This year is a year on par with no other, with more than 50 percent of our state in exceptional drought conditions,” Veach said. “This will provide some immediate relief for those who have been struggling and they need some help now.”

Applications are available through the Agricultural Department, the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service county offices, the Arkansas Cattleman’s Association, the Agricultural Council of Arkansas and Farm Bureau county offices.

Earlier this week, the governor sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking for a temporary waiver of ethanol quotas for renewable fuels. The federal mandates consume U.S. grains, particularly corn, and have made it difficult for Arkansas ranchers to find and afford feed stock during the prolonged drought, the governor said.