Cattle producers facing continued drought conditions have inquired about the prospects for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. Individuals seeking the use of CRP acres prior to July 15 should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and make the request. The local FSA committee first must make application and provide documentation to the state FSA office that conditions warrant early emergency use.

USDA, as a general rule, prohibits haying and grazing of CRP lands during the nesting season. In Kansas, the nesting season is April 15 to July 15. Emergency use of CRP during this period may only be authorized by FSA officials in Washington D.C., if the county is suffering a 40% or greater loss in normal pasture and hay production and precipitation levels in the four most recent months. In addition, federal FSA officials likely will ask states to provide documentation that grazing of CRP lands during the nesting season is supported by cooperating federal agencies, the state department of agriculture, state wildlife agency and other nongovernmental wildlife organizations. In 2012, these conditions were satisfied and emergency CRP grazing was authorized in some counties in late June.

After the nesting season (July 15), the state FSA committee has authority to release a county for emergency grazing if the U.S. Drought Monitor designates the county as D2 (severe drought) or greater and emergency haying if it is designated at least as D3 (extreme drought). As of April 23, most of Kansas was classified with D2, D3 or D4 (exceptional) drought conditions.

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