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As of Friday, 83 counties were authorized for emergency harvesting of hay and/or grazing of certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, starting Aug. 2, Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Scherrie Giamanco announced. Additional counties were expected to be added.
The approved counties cover much of Central and Southern Illinois. Another tier of approved counties stretches across the state’s northern border.
As of Friday, 14 counties had applied -- but had not received approval -- for authority to graze certain CRP acres before Aug. 2, according to Illinois FSA officials. That decision will be made by national FSA officials.
Giamanco stressed that eligible farmers who are interested in emergency grazing or harvesting of hay on CRP acres must obtain approval from their county FSA staff before taking action.
Those farmers also must obtain a modified conservation plan that includes haying and/or grazing requirements from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Giamanco said.
The hay harvest authorization will take effect Aug. 2, which is after the wildlife nesting and brood rearing season here, and is not to continue past Aug. 31. The grazing authorization also will begin Aug. 2 and is not to continue after Sept. 30.
Once approved for emergency hay harvest, farmers must leave at least 50 percent of each field or contiguous fields with standing grass for wildlife. Farmers cannot harvest hay and graze livestock on the same CRP acres.
In addition, farmers are limited to one hay cutting and are not permitted to sell any of it. There will be a 10 percent CRP payment reduction based on the number of acres actually grazed or harvested for hay.
Eligible farmers who are interested in grazing must not graze livestock on at least 25 percent of each field or contiguous CRP field, or graze not more than 75 percent of the stocking rate as determined by NRCS.
Farmers who do not own or lease livestock may rent or lease the hay harvest or grazing privileges to an eligible livestock farmer.
For more information, contact the local county FSA staff.