Conservation specialists with the Farm Service Agency told the Indiana Beef Cattle Association Board of Directors this week that four counties in Indiana have been declared as emergency haying and grazing counties for the Conservation Reserve Program land. The designation was made due to the dry conditions and lack of hay and grazing forage available in parts of Indiana.
The four counties currently approved are Jennings, :Lawrence, Ripley and Jackson, says Gail Peas, Indiana FSA program specialist. She noted that more counties have requested to be granted emergency grazing status. Their requests are now under consideration, she noted. To qualify, counties must be able to document a D3 class drought, which means the county has received less than 40% of normal precipitation over a specified period.
"What the emergency provision does is allow producers to graze or hay CRP land, and lose a smaller percentage of CRP rental benefits this year than normal." Peas says,.
Wait a minute- what does she mean- 'than normal.' Is haying and grazing allowed on CRP land anyway? "What FSA terms managed haying and grazing is allowed once in a three-year period," she notes. However, choosing to do that reduces payments that year for CRP acreage.
"We're not talking grass waterways or filter strips," Peas notes. "They can't be grazed or turned into hay under either the emergency or managed provisions. We're talking about large acreages that are enrolled in regular CRP programs."
Another provision within the ruling states that producers in a county declared as an emergency haying and grazing for CRP acreage county can go outside of their county boundaries to find CRP acreage to hay or graze. In fact, they can choose to work with any cooperating CRP participant within a 210-mile radius of their county. However, it's a one-way street- the producer on the other end can't hay or graze his livestock- he can only provide emergency haying or grazing to the person in the county that has been declared as an emergency county for haying and grazing.
No matter if it's emergency haying or grazing or if a producer is exercising his managed haying and grazing privilege, allotted once every three years in return for a reduced annual CRP rental payment that season, the deadline for haying or grazing on CRP land is Sept. 15, Peas notes. There is also a provision in CRP contracts noting that if CRP land is grazed, livestock must be removed once minimum grazing heights have been reached.
The most important advice is to check with your local FSA office before doing anything on your CRP land, or on someone else's land. There is an official form that must be properly filled out and approved before you can hay or graze CRP land.