Severe drought in four Nebraska counties is opening up Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to haying and grazing for a limited time.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) granted the emergency designation for Adams, Franklin, Kearney, and Webster counties.
Greg Reisdorff, FSA-Nebraska program chief, says the south-central part of the state is the driest.
“In that particular part of the state, I call it a bullseye,” Reisdorff tells Nebraska Radio Network. “There are about four or five counties that have hit that D-2 (Severe Drought) designation. We have many others that are slightly dry and a lesser degree, but those four counties are the ones that have requested it at this time.”
CRP land usually is left untouched, but Reisdorff says it is good to have when agricultural producers face an emergency.
“They can hay half their field and they have to leave half remaining,” he says.
Producers are paid when they enroll land into the CRP. In the past, those payments were reduced when the FSA allowed emergency haying and grazing.
“One change, though, is the 2014 Farm Bill did remove the payment reduction, so we don’t have to assess a payment reduction for this emergency designation,” Reisdorff says.
Haying on CRP land in those four counties is allowed until Aug. 31, while grazing runs through Sept. 30, 2016.
Producers must sign up and receive approval from their local FSA office prior to any emergency haying or grazing and must work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to ensure an amended conservation plan is in place.
The CRP acreage can be used for their own livestock or they may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. CRP participants can donate, but are not allowed to sell, the hay.