Wallaces Farmer

USDA allows haying and grazing of CRP ground, but you must follow the rules.

June 29, 2016

3 Min Read

FAQ: I have 60 acres enrolled in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program. What are the rules for harvesting hay from CRP ground, or grazing it?

Answer: Provisions in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program allow for haying and grazing, but you must follow the rules. John Whitaker, state director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Iowa, provides the following answers to commonly asked questions.

Question: What’s the difference between “managed” and “routine” haying and grazing?


Answer: CRP contracts approved before July 28, 2010 provided for managed harvesting (haying) and grazing. CRP contracts approved after July 28, 2010 including re-enrollments provide for managed harvesting and what is now referred to as routine grazing practices. So, although the practice provisions do not change, producers who receive new or modified conservation plans for implementing grazing practices will see the terminology in their plans change from managed to routine grazing.

Question: What is the approval process for implementing managed haying and routine grazing practices on CRP acres?

Answer: CRP participants interested in haying and grazing their CRP acres must have the approved practices included in their Conservation Plan of Operation (CPO). The first step is to notify FSA of your intent to hay or graze the CRP acres and work with FSA staff to determine eligible practices and acreage. 

The next step is to visit with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to modify your existing or establish a new CPO to include provisions for haying and/or grazing eligible acres no more than one out of every three years for Iowa (some states may have a different frequency).

Question: Do I have to hay or graze all eligible acres in the same year?

Answer: Not necessarily. Depending on the availability of eligible CRP practices and eligible acres under contract, some producers elect to divide their acres into thirds so that they are haying or grazing a third of their acres in a rotation each year for three years and starting the process again if approved.  Others may choose to hay or graze all eligible acres at one time in the same year.

However, it is important to note that 50% of CRP acres eligible for mechanical harvest (haying) must be left “un-hayed” for wildlife habitat.

Question: Which CRP practices are eligible for managed harvesting and routine grazing?

Answer: For General CRP Contracts:

·        CP-1                Established Permanent Introduced Grasses/Legumes

·        CP-2                Established Permanent Native Grasses

·        CP-4D  Established Permanent Wildlife Habitat

·        CP-10   Vegetative Cover (Grass Already Established)

For State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) CRP Contracts:

·        CP-2                Established Permanent Native Grasses

·        CP-4D  Established Permanent Wildlife Habitat

Question: If I graze my livestock for the purpose of gleaning crop residue, can they graze the waterways (CP8a), filter strips (CP21) and habitat buffers (CP33) enrolled in CRP?

Answer: This practice is referred to as Routine Incidental Grazing and it is an approved practice if the grazing occurs outside of the primary nesting season. For 2016, if approved, producers can graze livestock Aug. 2 through Sept. 30.

Question: Will there be a reduction in my annual CRP payment for haying and/or grazing CRP acres and, can I sell what I harvest?

Answer: CRP participants will be assessed a 25% annual payment reduction for the number of acres mechanically harvested or grazed. And, yes, CRP participants can sell what is mechanically harvested for forage and biofuels. Likewise, CRP participants who do not have livestock, can lease the grazing privileges to an eligible livestock producer.

For more information on CRP haying and grazing, contact your local FSA office at offices.usda.gov.

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