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Congressional legislation supports emergency haying

WASHINGTON — U.S. senators and representatives from Minnesota and South Dakota joined other members of Congress in introducing companion bills to improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to grant authorization for emergency haying of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land 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 Sunday in Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The CRP Flexibility Act would address this by allowing emergency haying on CRP acres before Aug. 1 when certain conditions are met and in consultation with the state technical committee.

“The drought across the upper Midwest has created incredibly difficult conditions for Minnesota’s farmers and livestock producers,” said U.S. Sen. Klobuchar. D-MN. “By authorizing emergency haying of Conservation Reserve Program lands, we are taking an important step to help farmers and ranchers feed their herds throughout droughts.”

“Right now over 70 percent of Minnesota is experiencing a severe drought and it’s quickly worsening with the current hot weather,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-MN.

“This is devastating for our cattle producers, who are running out of hay to feed their herds. When severe droughts hit, the USDA should have the tools to allow farmers to access reserve land for haying and grazing. This will lessen the impact on the farm economy.”

The introduction of this legislation follows a letter sent by Klobuchar, Smith, Craig and Reps. Michelle Fischbach, R-MN, Pete Stauber, R-MN, Tom Emmer, R-MN, and Jim Hagedorn, R-MN, asking USDA to consider authorizing emergency haying and grazing of CRP land to aid livestock producers in areas affected by the ongoing drought.

The CRP Flexibility Act is co-sponsored by Sens. John Hoeven, R-ND, and Kevin Cramer, R-ND, and Reps. Tom Emmer, R-MN, Michelle Fischbach, R-MN, Jim Hagedorn, R-MN, Pete Stauber, R-MN, and Kelly Armstrong, R-ND.

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