May 30, 2008
May 30, 2008 - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer on Tuesday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has authorized certain acreage enrolled under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to be available for hay and forage after the primary nesting season ends for grass-nesting birds.
"This action will provide much needed feed and forage while maintaining the conservation benefits from the nation's premier conservation program," said Schafer. "Eligible farmers and ranchers will be able to plan for harvest of forage after the end of the primary nesting season this summer."
Prices for most field crops have advanced to record or near record levels in recent months, reflecting strong demand, tight supplies and competition for acres. The increased demand for commodities and resulting higher prices has impacted the livestock industry in particular.
More than 24 million acres of land enrolled in CRP will be eligible for this critical feed use program. USDA estimates that this program will make available up to 18 million tons of forage worth $1.2 billion.
Eligible land may not be hayed or grazed until after the end of the primary nesting season. Also, some of the eligible land or forage of the land must be reserved for wildlife, and any land that is used under this authority must have a conservation plan. Further, the most environmentally-sensitive land enrolled in CRP will not be eligible. The land will be subject to a site inspection to ensure compliance with the conservation plan. No rental payment reduction will be assessed on contracts being utilized for this critical use. However, a $75 fee will be charged to process the required contract modification.
Sign up for interested CRP participants will begin June 2, 2008, at local Farm Service Agency offices. This modification for critical feed use is only for 2008. All forage use must be completed no later than November 10, 2008.
Additional details including fact sheets, maps and statistics are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation