Emergency Grazing Approved for Parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota

"We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny 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."

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on July 20 announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota that are being affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices.

"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."

For these and also CRP practices previously announced, he is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant in parts of the three states that have reached D2, or "severe," drought level or worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wyoming. All emergency grazing must end Sept. 30, 2017, and emergency haying must end Aug. 31, 2017.

Perdue said epic dry conditions, as high as D4 in some areas, coupled with an intense heatwave have left pastures in poor or very poor condition, resulting in the need for ranchers to supplement grain and hay and, at worst, sell their herds. Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres 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. More information about the counties approved for emergency haying and grazing and the eligible CRP practices in this area is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze.

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