USDA to allow limited emergency grazing of CRP lands

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2013 - As severe drought conditions persist in certain regions throughout the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today announced temporary assistance to livestock producers through FSA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

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Under limited conditions, farmers and ranchers affected by drought will be allowed to use certain additional CRP acres for haying or grazing under emergency conditions while maintaining safeguards to the conservation and wildlife benefits provided by CRP.

In addition, USDA announced that the reduction to CRP annual rental payments related to emergency haying or grazing will be reduced from 25 percent to 10 percent. Further, the sale of hay will be allowed under certain conditions. These measures take into consideration the quality losses of the hay and will provide needed assistance to livestock producers.

"Beginning today, state FSA offices are authorized, under limited conditions, to expand opportunities for haying and grazing on certain additional lands enrolled in CRP," said Garcia. "This local approach provides both the appropriate flexibility and ability to tailor safeguards specific to regional conditions. States must adhere to specific guidelines to ensure that additional haying and grazing still maintains the important environmental and wildlife benefits of CRP. These safeguards will be determined through consultation with the state conservationist, state fish and wildlife agency and stakeholders that comprise the state technical committee."

Kansas and Nebraska state FSA offices approved emergency grazing in a number of their counties in mid-July.

FSA also has taken action under the Emergency Conservation Program to authorize additional expenditures related to drought response to be eligible for cost share, including connection to rural water systems and installation of permanent pipelines. In addition, given the limited budgetary resources and better long-term benefits, FSA has increased the maximum cost share rates for permanent practices relative to temporary measures.

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