USDA has announced expansion of CRP acreage open for emergency practices, such as haying and grazing, to provide drought relief for producers. The expansion will allow livestock producers from eligible counties to obtain needed hay or forage. The expanded area radiates 150 miles out from any county approved for emergency haying and grazing in any of the following states: Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

"Drought conditions have created serious hardships for many farmers and ranchers in the Great Plains and other areas across the country," Chuck Conner, USDA deputy secretary, explains. He says producers can find a map of counties approved for emergency haying and grazing with an approximate 150-mile radius by clicking "Conservation" at www.fsa.usda.gov.

Additionally, producers' CRP rental payment will be reduced by only 10% instead of the standard 25% on CRP lands that are grazed in 2006. To be approved for emergency haying or grazing, a county must be listed as a level "D3 Drought -- Extreme" or greater, or have suffered at least a 40% loss of normal moisture and forage for the preceding four-month qualifying period.

Connor also reminds state USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) committees that they may authorize emergency haying or grazing of CRP in counties currently listed as level D3 drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. CRP participants should submit applications with their local FSA offices upon approval.

To participate:

  • Livestock producers in counties approved for emergency haying or grazing assistance may purchase hay or conduct emergency haying and grazing of eligible CRP acreage from CRP participants (in the expanded area) willing to provide hay or haying and grazing.
  • Livestock producers in counties approved for emergency haying or grazing assistance must certify they are an eligible livestock producer in an eligible county approved for emergency haying and grazing and that they are requesting emergency haying and grazing of eligible CRP acreage from another eligible CRP participant in the expanded area who is willing to provide hay or grazing.
  • The primary nesting and brood-rearing season of the state where the land to be hayed or grazed is located will be respected. For example, a portion of Minnesota is within the 150-mile range of North Dakota counties approved for emergency haying and grazing. Minnesota's nesting season ends Aug. 1. Livestock producers in North Dakota counties approved for emergency haying and grazing and who wish to hay or graze CRP acreage in Minnesota may begin Aug. 2.
Only livestock operations located within approved counties are eligible for emergency haying or grazing of CRP acreage. CRP participants who do not own or lease livestock may rent or lease the grazing privilege to an eligible livestock farmer located in an approved county.

For all land enrolled in CRP that has been approved for emergency haying and grazing, the 10% payment reduction will be assessed based on the number of acres actually hayed or grazed times the CRP annual rental rate. CRP participants who prepaid the 25% payment reduction will have the difference refunded.

In addition to making forage available on CRP land, USDA is operating a range of programs to assist producers affected by drought or other natural disasters. More info on emergency haying and grazing is available at local FSA offices and online at: www.fsa.usda.gov, click on "Conservation."