The 2019 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and acreage reporting deadline is fast approaching. Make sure you are prepared to report information to your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) by November 15 with the tips below.

FSA administers the LFP to provide benefits to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to severe drought on improved and native pasture, as well as grasses planted specifically for livestock grazing, such as Ryegrass. The drought losses must be due to a qualifying drought that occurs during the normal grazing period for the County.

The grazing periods and carrying capacity for each type pasture are established by the Mississippi State FSA Committee. Covered pastures include our perennial pastures of improved and native grasses; as well as our annual Ryegrass and small grains used for grazing.

Eligible livestock are those livestock that are or were owned by the applicant and were grazing the pasture at some point during the 60 days prior to the qualifying date of the drought.

Eligible livestock producers are those who own or lease pasture in a County rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as suffering from drought at one of the levels below.

If any part of the County is rated on the U.S. Drought Monitor at a:

  • D2 (severe drought) intensity level for at least eight consecutive weeks during the normal grazing period, eligible producers will be eligible to receive benefits equal to one monthly payment.
  • D3 (extreme drought) intensity level at any time during the grazing period, eligible producers may qualify for benefits equal to three monthly payments.
  • D3 (extreme drought) intensity level for at least four weeks during the grazing period, or at a D4 (exceptional drought) intensity level at any time during the grazing period, eligible producers may qualify for benefits equal to 4 monthly payments.
  • D4 (exceptional drought) intensity level for at least four weeks during the normal grazing period, eligible producers may qualify for benefits equal to five monthly payments.

(The maximum amount producers may receive during a calendar year is the equivalent of five monthly payments.)

These are the grazing periods and carrying capacities established by the Mississippi State FSA Committee for 2019:

Pasture Type Grazing Period Carrying Capacity (Acres/Animal Unit)
Improved Pasture

(Bahia, Bermuda, etc.)

March 1 – November 30 1.8
Native Pasture


March 1 – November 30 3.8
**Mixed Forage


February 15 – December 15 1.8


December 1 – May 15 1.0
Small Grains


December 1 – May 15 1.0
Sorghum Forage


June 1 – August 31



** Mixed forage generally includes 2 or more grasses mixed/growing in the same field, such as annual ryegrass over seeded into perennial pasture (coded IGS by FSA) or clover mixed with perennial pasture (coded LGM by FSA) or small grains planted into perennial pasture, such as wheat over seeded into perennial pasture (coded SSG by FSA)

Properly Reporting Pasture

One very critical point to qualifying for FSA benefits is to correctly and timely certify all grazing acreage on your farm. For perennial grasses, this should be done by November 15 for the upcoming year. In addition, it is critical that you properly certify the intended use of the pasture. That is, for “grazing” or “forage” (mechanical harvest – such as hay). Only those acres certified as being intended for “grazing” are eligible for LFP benefits. If you both graze and hay the same acreage, you should report the predominant intended use because FSA can only accept one intended use.

Beginning with the 2019 program year, the Mississippi State FSA Committee has adopted changes in its grazing periods. The Committee will adopt a “Full Season” grazing period. This will allow it to refer to mixtures of various grasses as “Mixed Forage” as a category of grazing. This was done because FSA will only allow pasture to be certified to one variety (or crop) of grass per year.

Most of the annual Ryegrass planted in Mississippi is over seeded into warm-season perennial grasses. This is done to prolong the grazing period and is generally recognized by FSA as being a “Mixed Forage” (two or more inter seeded grasses). In addition, most of the pastures are a “mix” of various grasses such as Bahia, Bermuda, Crabgrass, Fescue, etc.

If you over seed annual Ryegrass and certify that pasture to FSA as “Ryegrass” then we are limited to providing LFP coverage to you only during the Ryegrass grazing period – December 1, 2018 – May 15,  2019. If you will graze the “Ryegrass” and then graze the warm season grasses that follow the Ryegrass, you may wish to certify the grazing as Mixed Forage. This allows you to have LFP coverage for February 15, 2019 – December 15, 2019. As you see, the window of coverage is much larger and covers the timeframe when Mississippi is most likely to experience significant drought.

Example 1:

Bob has 500 acres of pasture he is grazing.

He certifies 30 acres of Ryegrass (over seeded) and begins grazing in December. The other 470 acres are certified as Bahia. In September 2019 Bob’s County hits a D3 level on the U. S. Drought Monitor.

The 470 acres are eligible for LFP payments because the drought hit during the grazing period for Bahia grass. The 30 acres he certified as Ryegrass are not eligible for LFP because the drought hit outside the Ryegrass grazing period.

If Bob had certified the 30 acres as Mixed Forage, then all 500 acres would have qualified for LFP because the drought hit during the Mixed Forage grazing period (Feb 15-Dec 15).

Example 2:

Same as above.

30 acres of over seeded Ryegrass certified as Mixed Forage and 470 acres certified as Bahia. Drought hits his County on December 10, 2019.

The 30 acres of Mixed Forage is eligible for LFP; however, the 470 acres are not because it is outside the grazing period for Bahia.

(Note: Of the examples above, Example 1 is the more likely of the 2 since it is more likely that Mississippi experiences drought in September than in December.)

If you are going to graze both the Ryegrass and the warm grasses following the Ryegrass on the same pasture, then you may wish to report the acreage as “Mixed Forage.” You get more coverage during the time of the year Mississippi is historically most likely to hit an eligible drought.

If you have any questions concerning the LFP or acreage reporting process, call or visit your local County FSA Office.

The information detailed in this article was provided by the Mississippi Farm Service Agency.