USDA approves emergency haying in parts of Montana, the Dakotas due to continued drought conditions | TheFencePost.com
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USDA approves emergency haying in parts of Montana, the Dakotas due to continued drought conditions

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows areas of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota in severe (orange) and extreme (red) drought.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue authorized emergency haying on Conservation Reserve Program lands from July 16 through Aug. 30 for certain counties in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota to address drought problems, the USDA's Farm Service Agency announced July 10.

Perdue announced emergency grazing in the drought areas earlier.

The authorization applies to counties designated as D2 or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor and includes any county with any part of its border located within 150 miles of a county eligible for emergency haying of CRP, according to the Drought Monitor map.

Increased demand for hay has further depleted already low levels of hay stock, FSA said. As of May 1, Montana and North Dakota reported the lowest hay stocks since 2013 and South Dakota the lowest since 2014.

Eligible CRP participants can hay their acreage for their own use or may grant another producer use of CRP land for haying purposes. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reductions assessed for acres hayed under this emergency authority, FSA said.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced the emergency haying for North Dakota counties late on July 10.

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"Our ranchers are facing real hardship due to the drought," Hoeven said. "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."

The U.S. Cattlemen's Association thanked Perdue in a news release and noted it described the need for the emergency authorities in a letter to Perdue. ❖