South Dakota Senator John Thune has asked the Department of Agriculture to make urgent changes to the Livestock Indemnity Program to assist farmers and ranchers. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Thune says a series of winter storms across the upper Midwest in March and April, the peak lambing and calving months for many livestock producers, has taken their toll on young livestock in several states. Thune alleges that some producers have been denied assistance through the program, as USDA says the producers lacked proper management protocols and failed to properly care for livestock before, during or after the weather events. Thune is asking that USDA allows a statement or certification from a licensed veterinarian that an applicant’s livestock died due to a weather-related cause. Thune also asked USDA to allow state Farm Service Agency committees to approve applications in the program, with state committee’s having the final approval. Thune says local veterinarians and committee’s “are considerably more familiar with the management practices of applicants” to the program, and are better able to make accurate determinations.