The drought of 2012 continues to harm Nebraska's crop and livestock industries. In response, emergency government program changes are being made and University of Nebraska specialists are offering recommendations to producers.
Here are some of the recent developments.
In one case, emergency haying and grazing statewide in Nebraska has been opened up for Conservation Reserve Program acres, says Dan Steinkruger, USDA Farm Service Agency executive director in Nebraska. The emergency use of CRP will provide additional forage for the livestock industry, he says. A 10% reduction in the annual rental payment applies. This announcement also removed restrictions on the sale of CRP hay. For more information, go to your local FSA office or go online at www.fsa.usda.gov/ne.
Later, USDA expanded further the use of CRP. The agency authorized emergency haying and grazing on the following CRP practices that were restricted for haying and grazing in the first announcement:
CP8A, grass waterway—non-easement.
CP23, wetland restoration
CP23A, wetland restoration—non-floodplain
CP25, rare and declining habitat
CP27, farmable wetlands—pilot wetland
CP28, farmable wetlands pilot buffer
CP37, duck nesting habitat
CP41, FWP flooded prairie wetland
"This is a big move by USDA. While it does not represent a tremendous number of acres, it does increase the pool of available acres for forage," says Doug Parde of Sterling, chairman of the farmer-stockman council of the Nebraska Cattlemen.
Before haying and grazing CRP acres, go to your local FSA office to sign applicable forms.
Unauthorized haying and grazing will result in a fine.
CRP participants may sell, donate, barter or otherwise exchange hay or grazing rights. However, according to Parde, the haying and grazing privilege may be leased but not subleased.
According to UNL specialists, producers considering grazing or harvesting dryland corn and soybeans for forage. If do one of these options, consult the labels of any herbicides applied to these fields to verify that grazing or forage harvest intervals have been met before or turning livestock into a field.
Most commonly used corn herbicides have grazing or forage harvest restrictions, ranging from 0 to 80 days after application.
Soybean herbicides tend to be more restrictive regarding grazing and forage harvest. Some allow grazing 30 days after application, but other products do not allow for grazing or forage harvest.