As severe drought conditions persist in certain regions throughout the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia this week announced temporary assistance to livestock producers through FSA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Under limited conditions, farmers and ranchers affected by drought will be allowed to use certain additional CRP acres for haying or grazing under emergency conditions while maintaining safeguards to the conservation and wildlife benefits provided by CRP. In addition, USDA announced that the reduction to CRP annual rental payments related to emergency haying or grazing will be reduced from 25 percent to 10 percent. Further, the sale of hay will be allowed under certain conditions. These measures take into consideration the quality losses of the hay and will provide needed assistance to livestock producers.
FSA also has taken action under the Emergency Conservation Program to authorize additional expenditures related to drought response to be eligible for cost share, including connection to rural water systems and installation of permanent pipelines. In addition, given the limited budgetary resources and better long term benefits, FSA has increased the maximum cost share rates for permanent practices relative to temporary measures.
Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to contact their local FSA Service Center to report damage to crops or livestock loss. In addition, USDA reminds livestock producers to keep thorough records of losses, including additional expenses for such things as feed purchased due to lost supplies.