The USDA announced Aug. 23 that 22 counties in Iowa are authorized for emergency haying and grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program acres for fiscal 2018. The Farm Service Agency’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, which sets the cutoff dates for when you can no longer make hay from, or graze, these CRP acres.
“We have emergency haying and grazing open now in many southern counties in Iowa due to drought conditions,” says Amanda DeJong, FSA state executive director in Iowa. “The CRP program runs on a fiscal year, and payments are made on fiscal year basis. So, the grazing must be done by Sept. 30 and haying must be done by end of August. However, we give farmers some time, a couple of weeks after Aug. 31, to get the bales off the field.”
The Iowa counties FSA has approved for emergency CRP haying and grazing are: Adams, Appanoose, Clarke, Clay, Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Dickinson, Henry, Jefferson, Lee, Louisa, Lucas, Mahaska, Marion, Monroe, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello and Wayne.
You must get permission from FSA
If you are going to cut hay on CRP acres, you haven’t got much time left; the end of August is almost here. “If a producer is interested in cutting CRP acres for hay, that producer must first come to the county FSA office to get permission,” says DeJong. “You have to request approval from FSA prior to cutting, because you have to obtain a modified conservation plan to hay or graze CRP.”
Who determines which counties are open for haying and grazing? The state FSA committee has that authority. The county executive director in the local FSA office hears from farmers who want to hay and graze CRP acres. The county FSA office sends that request to the state committee. That committee approves the request, and the process usually gets completed in the same day. “This is part of our farmer-led, decision-making system we have in FSA,” says DeJong.
Some counties already open by FSA
Some of the counties have already been open for a while this summer for CRP haying and grazing. “Some have been open for several weeks, and we’ve had a lot of interest from farmers in asking us for permission,” says DeJong. “We have hundreds of CRP contracts with producers in Iowa now being modified to allow for haying and grazing to happen. Our staffs at county FSA offices are working hard on these requests, and we’re getting them turned around quickly so farmers can get the haying and grazing of CRP done.”
Unlike previous years, counties aren’t automatically approved for CRP emergency grazing when they reach D2 (severe drought) level on the U.S. Drought Monitor. If there is a need for emergency grazing, each local FSA office must request approval from the Iowa FSA state committee. Thus, the 90-day emergency grazing period for these counties ends Sept. 30. Emergency haying authorizations end 60 calendar days from the authorization date, not to exceed August 31.
No CRP rental payment reduction
“Eligible producers interested in emergency haying and grazing of CRP must request approval before they hay or graze eligible acreage, and they must obtain a modified conservation plan from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that includes haying and grazing provisions,” says DeJong. “Current provisions allow grazing on 100% of a field, up to a 75% stocking rate.”
There will be no CRP annual rental payment reduction for 2018 emergency haying and grazing authorizations.
To take advantage of the emergency grazing provisions, authorized producers can use the CRP acres for their own livestock, or they may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. Eligible CRP acreage is limited to acres within the approved county.
Other FSA rules to follow for CRP ground
In counties authorized for emergency haying and grazing, producers are reminded that the same CRP acreage can’t be both hayed and/or grazed at the same time. For example, if 50% of a field or contiguous field is hayed, the remaining unhayed 50% can’t be grazed; it must remain unhayed and ungrazed for wildlife. In addition, participants are limited to one hay cutting and aren’t permitted to sell any of the hay.
For more information and to request approval for emergency haying or grazing use of CRP acres, contact your local USDA Service Center.