WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Congressman Kelly Armstrong this week urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to assist North Dakota ranchers suffering from drought conditions and requested that USDA allow emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in North Dakota before Aug. 1.
While CRP acres in 50 North Dakota counties are currently eligible to be grazed at limited capacity, they are not eligible to be hayed. The delegation outlined disastrous drought conditions across the state and the risk of poor forage conditions if producers wait until the required date to hay.
“Allowing emergency haying and grazing of CRP acres before Aug. 1 would provide valuable feed for producers and reduce the need to cull cattle. While some CRP acres are currently available for grazing at limited capacity, this will be insufficient to meet forage demand. Additionally, if conditions persist, CRP acres with quality forage will be nonexistent by August, limiting the benefit a producer would receive from haying or grazing,” the delegation wrote. “Rather than delay releasing CRP and potentially losing the nutritional benefits contained in those CRP acres, we urge USDA to assist North Dakota ranchers by allowing emergency haying and grazing before Aug. 1.”