Hoeven Helps Introduce Legislation to Provide Drought Relief, Allow Flexibility for Emergency CRP Haying

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today helped introduce the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Flexibility Act. This bipartisan legislation, which is sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), would improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) ability to allow for expedited emergency haying of CRP acres in response to drought and other weather-related disaster events. Under current statute, emergency CRP haying is not allowed until after the primary nesting season, which ends August 1 in North Dakota. The bill would create flexibility for producers by allowing emergency haying on CRP acres before August 1 when certain conditions are met and in consultation with the state technical committee. 

“Our ag producers routinely face challenging weather conditions, and we continue working to improve federal disaster programs so farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to maintain their operations,” said Senator Hoeven. “Our legislation would provide needed flexibility when producers are working to overcome severe drought, enabling them to hay CRP acres earlier and ensure they have adequate feed for livestock.”

“As South Dakota farmers and ranchers deal with ever-changing drought conditions, it’s critical that USDA has the flexibility to step in and help producers access forage for their livestock,” said Senator Thune. “As a longtime supporter of CRP, I’m proud to lead this common-sense measure that would help producers meet their forage needs during weather-related emergencies, and I will continue to work to ensure that it is included in the final farm bill.”

“In Minnesota and across the country, more and more areas are experiencing severe drought and heat waves,” said Senator Smith. “This is devastating for our cattle producers, who rely on hay to feed their herds. When severe droughts hit, farmers should be able to work with USDA and conservationists on a way to access reserve land for haying and grazing. This will lessen the impact of severe weather on the farm economy and help our farmers get through increasingly common bouts of extreme weather.”

The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).