Emergency grazing extended to assist ranchers

Aug 31, 2012
by WLJ

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday, Aug. 29 a two month extension for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, freeing up forage and feed for ranchers as they look to recover from this challenging time.

“The Obama administration is committed to helping the thousands of farm families and businesses who continue to struggle with this historic drought,” said Vilsack.

“It is also important that our farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses have the tools they need to be successful in the long term."

The secretary also designated 147 additional counties in 14 states as natural disaster areas—128 counties in nine states due to drought. In the past seven weeks, USDA has designated 1,892 unduplicated counties in 38 states as disaster areas—1,820 due to drought—while USDA officials have fanned out to more than a dozen drought-affected states as part of a total U.S. government effort to offer support and assistance to those in need.

USDA is permitting farmers and ranchers in drought-stricken states approved for emergency grazing to extend grazing on CRP land through Nov. 30, 2012, without incurring an additional CRP rental payment reduction. The period normally allowed for emergency grazing lasts through Sept. 30.

The extension applies to general CRP practices (details below) and producers must submit a request to their Farm Service Agency county office indicating the acreage to be grazed.

Primary counties and corresponding states designated as disaster areas as of Vilsack’s announcement for drought and other reasons are as follows:


•Alabama (drought): Cherokee

•Iowa (drought): Kossuth, Winnebago and Worth

•Idaho (drought): Lemhi

•Kentucky (drought): Meade

•Maryland (drought): Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Wicomico

•Maine (other): Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford, Penobscot, York

•Michigan (drought): All 83 counties

•Minnesota (other): Aitkin, Carlton, Dakota, Goodhue, Scott, Sibley, St. Louis

•Mississippi (drought): Benton, Lafayette

•Montana (drought): Beaverhead, Big Horn, Custer, Madison, Rosebud, Yellowstone

•Oregon (other): Harney, Malheur

•Pennsylvania (other): Adams

•South Dakota (drought and other): Brown, Brule, Buffalo, Corson, Faulk, Hand, Harding, Hughes, Hyde, Lake, Lyman, Mellette, Miner, Minnehaha, Moody, Perkins, Potter, Sanborn, Stanley, Sully, Ziebach

•Tennessee (drought): Hardeman The extension of emergency grazing on CRP acres does not apply to these practices: CP8A—Grass Waterway-Non-easement; CP23— Wetland Restoration; CP23A—Wetland Restoration-Non-Floodplain; CP27—Farmable Wetlands Pilot Wetland; CP28— Farmable Wetlands Pilot Buffer; CP37—Duck Nesting Habitat; and CP41— FWP Flooded Prairie Wetlands.

The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates 63 percent of the nation’s hay acreage is in an area experiencing drought, while approximately 72 percent of the nation’s cattle acreage is experiencing drought. Approximately 86 percent of the U.S. corn is within an area experiencing drought, down from a peak of 89 percent on July 24, and 83 percent of the U.S. soybeans are in a drought area, down from a high of 88 percent on July 24.

During the week ending Aug. 26, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 52 percent of U.S. corn and 38 percent of the soybeans were rated in very poor to poor condition, while rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor remained at 59 percent for the fourth consecutive week. For more information on latest drought conditions, visit USDA.gov/drought. — WLJ