The most important responsibility of raising livestock is making sure they have enough to eat. But with very limited grazing remaining on range and pasture lands due to the ongoing Texas drought, many rancher's cattle are getting hungry.
Luckily though many landowners have access to a resource that serves many purposes. That's the Conservation Reserve Program or CRP acres designed originally to help reduce land erosion and preserve wildlife habitat.
Landowners can sign up for the 10 or 15 year program and get paid by the acre to keep the land out of production. But the three year drought has been a game changer.
And the Farm Service Agency knows the land can help in more ways than one.
Emergency haying authorization has now been authorized for fiscal year 2013 beginning today, July 2, and runs for a 60 day period, not to exceed August 31 of this year.
The Texas FSA has already granted emergency CRP grazing for 197 Texas counties this summer and now has extended that approval on to include haying as well.
Upon approval of emergency haying, producers must leave at least 50 percent of each field unhayed for wildlife.
For those counties that are eligible for emergency haying and grazing, the same CRP acreage cannot be both hayed and/or grazed at the same time. For example, if 50 percent of a field or contiguous field is hayed, the remaining unhayed 50 percent cannot be grazed; it must remain unhayed and ungrazed for wildlife.
In addition, participants are limited to one hay cutting and are not permitted to sell any of the hay.
There will be a 25 percent CRP payment reduction for CRP acres used for haying under these emergency provisions.
To take advantage of the emergency haying provisions, authorized producers can use the CRP acreage for their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage for the purpose of haying.
Just one more way the agriculture community utilizes resource management to its highest degree.
For more information and to request approval for emergency haying use of CRP acres contact your local FSA office.