Can you hay or graze forage or whatever is growing on filter strips if your county has been declared a disaster area? The answer is likely no, but in a few cases, it may be yes. It all depends upon which program you used, if any, to install the filter strip.
Confused? So are farmers, and a bit unhappy if they aren't allowed to use the forage in filter strips as well. Filter strips installed under the continuous CRP sign-up which involves FSA paying rental payments annually back to the farmer can't be hayed or grazed.
Grass waterways can be hayed. However, the Aug. 31 deadline for making hay is fast approaching. The deadline on lands released for grazing is Sept. 30.
Farmers who attended a recent meeting to explain what help is available to livestock producers argued that it makes no sense. Both Julia Wickard of Indiana FSA and Jane Hardisty, head of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Indiana, said they understood where the farmers were coming from.
"We've requested that filter strips be allowed to be hayed or grazed, and so have several other states, including Illinois," Wickard says. She promised to pass the farmer's comments up the line of command. So far, Washington, D.C., has not granted that request.
If you put in a filter strip though the EQIP program with NRCS, however, you can legally hay or graze it, using the dates mentioned earlier as the cut-off periods. "Our rules are different, and if we cost-shared on it as an EQIP practice, then you can hay or graze it," Hardisty says. "However, we don't have a lot of filter strips installed as part of a multi-year EQIP program in Indiana, so it won't apply to a lot of producers."
Should FSA change their mind, look for an announcement here.