U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow haying of Conservation Reserve Program lands designated "CP25" for the first time ever in response to historic drought. Grazing of CP25 lands was previously approved.
"I applaud USDA for taking this step to help producers suffering from drought. It is commonsense," Roberts said. "Many producers were unable to graze these lands due to lack of fencing, access to water and other factors. This action will bring immediate relief to livestock producers across the country."
Senator Roberts called for releasing all Conservation Reserve Program acres for emergency haying and grazing in a letter he wrote, signed by Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee, to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The letter also highlighted several ways Sec. Vilsack and the Obama administration can help producers, including approving a limited irrigation crop insurance policy, keeping producers apprised of crop insurance rules, providing guidance to producers and elevators, keeping producers informed of crop contaminates, directing crop adjusters to areas most in need, possibly reimbursing transportation of livestock to new grazing locations and getting water to livestock among other requests. Text of the letter can be found here.
Last week, Senator Roberts and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback brought together state, local and federal government officials, along with representatives from the agriculture industry to talk about the effects of the drought across Kansas and how best to coordinate assistance for local farmers and ranchers. As a result of this meeting, Senator Roberts and Governor Brownback convinced the Army Corps of Engineers to suspend the releasing of water in three Kansas reservoirs allowing critical water to remain in Kansas where it is desperately needed.
On Senator Roberts' website is a page dedicated entirely to drought resources. It can be found here or at roberts.senate.gov. It includes links to federal and state resources for those suffering from drought conditions. He also released a public service announcement last week, urging Kansans to call their Farm Service Agency office for immediate assistance. The PSA can be found here.