Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer announced that after the primary nesting season for grass-nesting birds is over, Conservation Reserve Program acreage is being opened for use as hay and forage.
"This action will provide much needed feed and forage while maintaining the conservation benefits from the nation's premier conservation program," says Schafer. "Eligible farmers and ranchers will be able to plan for harvest of forage after the end of the primary nesting season this summer."
To see a map listing nesting dates for your area, click HERE.
All producers with CRP land will be eligible to use it as forage. In the past, CRP grazing and forage has only been opened to those in counties designated emergency disaster areas. The most environmentally-sensitive land enrolled in CRP will not be eligible.
"In authorizing this critical use of CRP acres for forage, USDA is also taking strong measures to preserve CRP's environmental benefits," says Schafer.
The land will be subject to a site inspection to ensure compliance with the conservation plan. No rental payment reduction will be assessed on contracts being utilized for this critical use. However, a $75 fee will be charged to process the required contract modification.
Signup for interested CRP participants will begin June 2, 2008, at local Farm Service Agency offices. This modification for critical feed use is only for 2008 and all forage use must be completed no later than November 10, 2008.