In response to recent extreme temperatures and drought that has impacted forage acres, USDA's Farm Service Agency authorized emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program acres in 10 Illinois counties effective July 24, 2012.
Emergency grazing of land enrolled in CRP has been authorized for Adams, Brown, Cass, Greene, Hancock, McDonough, Mason, Menard, Pike, and Schuyler Counties.
According to Scherrie Giamanco, State Executive Director of Illinois FSA, this authorization permits emergency grazing only in these counties. No haying of CRP acres is allowed at this time. Additionally, there will be a 10% CRP payment reduction for grazing CRP acres under these emergency provisions.
"Producers who are struggling to find forage acres for their livestock should take advantage of this opportunity," Giamanco says.
Emergency CRP grazing authority is limited to livestock producers who have suffered pasture losses due to the ongoing drought conditions in these 10 counties. To take advantage of the emergency provisions, eligible producers may move livestock across county lines from one approved emergency use county to another approved emergency use county.
Eligible producers who are interested in grazing CRP under the emergency authorization and current CRP participants who choose to provide land for grazing to an eligible livestock producer, must first request approval to graze eligible acreage; obtain a modified conservation plan from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to include grazing requirements, leave at least 25% of each field or contiguous CRP field ungrazed for wildlife, or graze not more than 75% of the stocking rate as determined by NRCS.
Last week, secretary Tom Vilsack designated 76 additional counties in six states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat. During the 2012 crop year, USDA has designated 1,369 counties across 31 states as disaster areas—1,234 due to drought—making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans. The additional counties designated today are in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The U.S. Drought Monitor currently reports that two-thirds of the continental United States is in a moderate to exceptional drought.
For more information on FSA's Emergency Conservation Program, or other drought assistance, visit www.fsa.usda.gov.