USDA is changing some of the guidelines for emergency haying and grazing acres in the Conservation Reserve Program following changes in the 2018 farm bill.
The Farm Service Agency is getting away from emergency haying and grazing requests starting at the county level and requiring state and national approval. Now, those haying and grazing approvals for CRP acres will be triggered by the drought severity shown on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The U.S. Drought Monitor has five intensity levels for droughts: D0 (abnormally dry); D1 (moderately dry); D2 (severe drought); D3 (extreme drought); and D4 (exceptional drought).
Under USDA's new CRP guideline, counties that fall into at least the D2 severe drought category on or after the last day of primary nesting season are eligible for haying and grazing on all eligible acres. Also, producers in counties that were in at least a D2 severe drought status for any single week during the last eight weeks of primary nesting season may also be eligible for emergency haying and grazing, unless the FSA County Committee determines that forage conditions no longer warrant emergency haying and grazing, USDA stated.
"FSA authorizes emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres under certain conditions to provide emergency relief to livestock producers in times of severe drought or similar natural disasters," said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. "These program changes will simplify the authorization process with an automatic trigger by severe drought designation, allowing livestock producers to quickly access much-needed forage."
As of now, USDA stated 500 counties -- mainly in western states and the Southern Plains -- fall into at least the D2 conditions for emergency haying and grazing.
Counties that trigger Livestock Forage Disaster Program payments may hay only using certain practices on less than 50% of their eligible CRP contract acres. USDA stated producers should contact their local FSA offices for the list of eligible practices.
Outside of the primary nesting season, counties that do not meet the D2 criteria could still be eligible for emergency haying and grazing if they have lost 40% of eligible production.
A map of eligible counties as of July 30 can be viewed here: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/…
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