USDA authorizes emergency haying, grazing nationally for drought relief

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WASHINGTON – Emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres nationally has been authorized to provide relief for farmers and ranchers in areas hardest hit by drought and other natural disasters.

Previously, emergency haying and grazing was limited to 18 states.

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.

New rules. The Farm Service Agency will notify its state committees that the 40-percent loss criterion no longer applies. State committees may limit the area within the states if conditions do not warrant haying and grazing in all areas.

Conservation Reserve Program participants, where authorized, have until Nov. 30 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.

Helping others. Program participants who do not own or lease livestock may donate, rent or lease the hay or the haying or grazing privileges. The program’s 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 Conservation Reserve Program contract acreage must be left ungrazed or unhayed.

USDA has a Web site for producers to list information concerning the need for hay or the availability of hay for sale or donation. The Hay Net is located at www.usda.fsa.gov.

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