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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has authorized more Conservation Reserve Program lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought.USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetlands and buffers.
“We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,” Perdue said. “USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.”
Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant that are in the “severe” drought level or greater. This includes counties with any part of their border within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states, so it may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming.
All emergency grazing must end Sept. 30 and emergency haying must end Aug. 31.
Pastures are in poor or very poor condition resulting in the need for ranchers to, at best, supplement grain and hay and at worst, sell their herds, the USDA said.
Weekly mean temperatures from July 11-18 were as much as 8 degrees above the long-term average in the northern High Plains, the USDA said. Areas of severe drought increased in northern and extreme southwest Nebraska, with areas of exceptional drought in North and South Dakota and Montana.
Interested landowners should contact the Farm Service Agency office and meet with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying/grazing. Individual conservation plans will take into consideration wildlife needs.
CRP participants are reminded that a certain percentage of fields must be left unhayed or ungrazed.
Additional information about the counties approved and the eligible CRP practices in this area is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze.
For more information on CRP emergency grazing and haying, or other disaster assistance programs and loans, contact your local USDA Service Center.
To find your local office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.