September 12, 2002

USDA Authorizes Emergency Haying And Grazing Nationally For Drought Relief

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced on September 7 the authorization of emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres nationally to provide relief for farmers and ranchers hit by drought. Previously, emergency haying and grazing was limited to 18 states and only a small percentage of counties in Missouri.

"Extreme weather conditions have impacted so many farmers and ranchers this year, particularly livestock producers," said Veneman. "This Administration continues to utilize every available program to provide assistance and this

decision will provide additional feed and forage to producers who have lost their hay stocks and grazing lands due to the recent disasters. It is our hope, that in the American tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, CRP

participants in areas not affected by these disasters will make their CRP acreage available for haying or grazing or donate hay to those in need."

The Missouri Cattlemen Association (MCA) had mailed a letter of request to Secretary Veneman's office in July to make CRP acreage available statewide.

Tom Broderick cattle producer near Plattsburg and President of MCA said at that time "we need action from Secretary Veneman now, before the situation worsens and before the feed-value on these lands has retreated beyond practical and economical value."

Chris J. Buechle, Executive Vice President of MCA said today, "We had hoped to get approval earlier, nevertheless this is good news. We want to thank

our elected officials in Washington for their support. Particularly Senator Kit Bond and Representatives Sam Graves, Kenny Hulshof, Roy Blunt, and Ike Skelton for working directly with MCA and on this." Buechle added, "It would only seem fair that the 25 percent penalty be removed due to the lack of value in remaining forage production."

Generally, to be approved for emergency haying or grazing, a county must have suffered at least a 40-percent loss of normal moisture and forage for the preceding four-month qualifying period. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will notify its State Committees that the 40-percent loss criterion no longer applies.

State FSA committees may limit the area within the states if conditions do not warrant haying and grazing in all areas. CRP

participants, where authorized, have until November 30, 2002, to submit applications with their local FSA office for emergency haying or grazing.

Conditions for participation and other details are available from local FSA offices.

CRP participants who do not own or lease livestock may donate, rent or lease the hay or the haying or grazing privileges. CRP annual rental payments made to participants will be reduced 25 percent to account for the areas hayed or grazed, unless the hay or the haying or grazing privileges are donated. For the welfare of wildlife, at least 25 percent of the CRP contract acreage must be left ungrazed or unhayed.

CRP is a voluntary program that offers annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term resource-conserving cover on eligible

land. This action will permit CRP participants to graze livestock or hay on CRP acreage.

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