Hoeven: USDA Approves Emergency Haying of CRP Acres in Drought-Stricken Counties Beginning July 16

Senator Has Been Pressing USDA to Open CRP Acres for Haying and Grazing

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved his request to allow emergency haying of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres beginning July 16. Hoeven worked to secure support to begin emergency haying in the state by mid-July.

This approval enables emergency haying in counties experiencing drought conditions of D2 or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor, as well as emergency haying in any county within 150 miles of a D2 county beginning on July 16. Interested producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to access eligible acres.

Additionally, USDA is providing producers with FSA loans a 12-month exemption from a requirement that they have physical control of their livestock. This exemption will allow ranchers to weather the drought by moving their livestock to feedlots or other states where they have feed, forage and water, before taking back physical control at a later date.

“Our ranchers are facing real hardship due to the drought,” said Hoeven. “We appreciate USDA approving our request for emergency haying and providing greater flexibility to help producers access CRP forage before it loses its nutritional value. We will continue working with the USDA and our producers to do all we can to help them weather this drought.”

On Friday, Hoeven convened a roundtable with the directors of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and ranchers to outline options for producers facing drought across the state. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Hoeven is working to ensure ranchers have access to emergency measures to help them weather the drought and maintain their operations. In addition to today’s approval of emergency haying, Hoeven has helped secure the following drought resources:

CRP Emergency Grazing 

In June, following a letter from Hoeven and the delegation, USDA opened CRP lands for emergency grazing in counties experiencing drought conditions of D2 or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor. The agency subsequently provided greater flexibility for grazers and opened CRP lands in all 53 North Dakota counties. 

Eligible CRP participants can use the acreage for grazing their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the land. There will be no reductions to CRP annual rental payments for acres grazed. CRP contract holders who hay their acreage are able to donate their hay to livestock producers or may sell their hay with a 25 percent reduction in their annual rental payment.

NRCS Wetland Restoration Acres Haying and Grazing

On Friday, Hoeven announced that NRCS acres are also available for haying and grazing. Ranchers should visit their county NRCS office to submit paperwork to access these acres, which are lands that farmers have enrolled in 30-year easements with NRCS under the Wetland Restoration Easement program.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program

Hoeven recently announced that ranchers in counties experiencing drought in D3 or higher categories are immediately eligible for payments under the Livestock Forage Disaster program. For counties under D2 intensity, eligibility begins after eight consecutive weeks of drought. County information for North Dakota can be found here at the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

Farm Service Agency (FSA) Emergency Assistance

The USDA has since designated counties in the state as natural disaster areas due to the drought, making additional assistance available for farm and ranch operators. This includes emergency loans through FSA.

  • These counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas – Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Divide, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Logan, McIntosh, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Oliver, Slope, Stark, Sioux, Ward and Williams
  • Counties designated as contiguous disaster counties – Burke, Dickey, Kidder, LaMoure, McHenry, Renville, Stutsman and Sheridan 

Ranchers in these counties have eight months from the date of the disaster designation to apply. The senator encourages all affected ranchers to work with their local FSA county office to access the emergency assistance programs.