WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today called on U.S. Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tom Vilsack to extend emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands to help livestock producers hit hard by lingering and intensifying drought.
The following is the text of the letter sent today to Secretary Vilsack:
Dear Mr. Secretary:
Thank you for your continued commitment to provide every USDA resource to help producers and communities deal with the devastating effects of ongoing drought. While many parts of the country and Kansas have received much-needed rainfall, areas of Western Kansas continue to suffer from multiple years of severe drought.
On July 11, you received a letter asking for the swift and unrestricted release of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for emergency haying and grazing. On July 16, the Kansas State Farm Service Agency (FSA) Committee, FSA Executive Director Adrian Polansky, and the State Technical Committee released CRP acreage for haying and grazing.
Due to the lingering, and in some cases intensifying, drought, we ask you again to swiftly authorize actions to allow livestock producers to effectively respond to drought conditions. In order to assist producers, last year on August 29, 2012, you announced that USDA would permit farmers and ranchers in drought stricken states that have been approved for emergency grazing to extend grazing on CRP land through November 30, 2012, without incurring an additional CRP rental payment reduction.
These actions a year ago significantly helped livestock producers and we ask that you authorize a similar extension of emergency grazing through November 30, 2013. Extending producers’ ability to utilize CRP acreage will allow producers to better prepare for this winter’s forage needs.
USDA agencies and personnel have forged a partnership with farmers, ranchers, local communities and state government agencies to utilize every available resource and program authority for survival and sustainability until weather patterns improve. Without adequate forage, the Kansas cattle industry, which generates more than $7 billion in cash receipts annually, will be negatively impacted as producers will be forced to sell their cattle. Irreplaceable genetics and traits bred for generations could be lost in the open market, jeopardizing our state’s leading industry.