South Dakota Senator Presses Vilsack To Release CRP Acres

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) filed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday in effort to release grazing acres for drought-stricken regions in South Dakota; Vilsack expected to comment on the matter later this afternoon.

Published on: Jul 11, 2012

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) asked for the release of Conservation Reserve Program acres in South Dakota for haying and grazing in light of recent drought conditions.

Thune reported touring areas in southwestern South Dakota that have been affected by fires and drought. Thune said timely availability of additional pasture and hay is of immediate concern.

"South Dakota's number one industry is agriculture and sheep and beef cattle add more than $2.8 billion to South Dakota's economy. As you are aware, it takes foundation livestock producers years to recover from forced breeding herd liquidation and downsizing, which is what many South Dakota livestock producers are facing due to drought conditions," Thune wrote.

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) filed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday in effort to release grazing acres for drought-stricken regions in South Dakota
Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) filed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday in effort to release grazing acres for drought-stricken regions in South Dakota

South Dakota currently has more than 1.1 million cares enrolled in the CRP, and while the land provides habitat for wildlife, Thune said that a portion of the land could be used to alleviate grazing shortage in South Dakota. While he acknowledged that fewer acres were available in western South Dakota, he said allowing use of the acres was imperative.

"I strongly urge you to consider using the administrative authority you have available to release as many CRP acres as possible for emergency haying and grazing in South Dakota," he wrote. "Making appropriate land enrolled in CRP across the entire state available for haying and grazing to livestock producers within the state would be of considerable benefit."

Thune cited the findings of the most recent Drought Monitor, which reported that six western South Dakota counties were at D2, or severe drought conditions and nearly all of South Dakota was at D0 or D1, abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions. Thune said conditions have worsened and are expected to continue that trend.

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