USDA acted fast on Julia Wickard's request to release certain drought-stricken counties for CRP grazing. The action was announced only about a week after she made the request.
So far 22 counties are authorized for emergency grazing of CRP land, Wickard says. She is the Indiana Farm Service Agency director.
The counties that have been approved so far include: Allen, Brown, Cass; Daviess; Decatur, Dubois, Fulton, Gibson, Huntington, Know, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Noble, Orange, Owen, Pike, Posey, Sullivan and Wabash.
If you're wondering why your county isn't on the list and you think conditions in your county are as bad or worse than in some of these, contact your local FSA office. Requests for emergency grazing must begin at the county committee level. They are then passed to Wickard, who passes them on to USDA in Washington, D.C.
Only grazing is authorized at this time. Haying is not authorized until the end of the primary nesting date for game birds, which is either July 16 or August 2, depending upon the age of the CRP contract.
Do not graze or later hay any acres until you make a request in writing to your local FSA office, Wickard insists. Just because approval has been granted does not mean that you can turn the cows out once you finish reading this item on the computer. You need to make sure you understand all the requirements and what you are committing to, and you can only do that by checking with the local office.
Secretary Vilsack announced another change that may affect your decisions as to whether or not to graze these acres if you have livestock, or lease them to a neighbor who has livestock if you don't. Indiana FSA reported earlier last week that if you graze or hay, your annual payment would be reduced by 25%. However, Vilsack reduced the penalty to only 10%.
Take questions to your local FSA office.