Coping with Drought 01 Aug 12

New USDA actions are aimed at helping Minnesota’s Livestock Producers Cope with Drought.

Officials say the USDA will move to open up more land for grazing, helping provide relief for high feed costs.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking new action to help Minnesota’s livestock producers cope with the ongoing drought. The USDA will begin opening up more land for haying and grazing on Wetland Reserve Program acres, helping provide relief for high feed costs caused by declining crop yields.

In addition to increasing opportunities for haying and grazing, the Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will hold an emergency sign up under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program August 6th – August 10th for payments for producers to plant forage crops this fall. Planting additional forage crops could make a difference this fall for livestock producers by helping to increase the supply of animal feed for livestock producers struggling with the drought.

“This severe drought is not just hurting farmers whose crops are withering in the fields. It’s driving up feed prices and putting an increased strain on our livestock, poultry and dairy producers,” Klobuchar said. “This action by the USDA is an important step in providing relief and helping Minnesota producers weather this disaster.”

“This is welcome relief for livestock producers who are seeing their feed costs go through the roof, and I’m glad the USDA took this action,” said Sen. Franken. “This drought really underscores the importance of passing a long-term Farm Bill – including a strong safety net – so Minnesota’s producers know they’ll be able to survive a bad year.”

“Producers across the country have been impacted by weather conditions out of their control. I’m pleased to see USDA utilize existing farm bill programs to provide Minnesota farmers with much-needed relief,” Peterson said. “I remain committed to ensuring a strong safety net is in place by urging my colleagues in the House to pass a five-year farm bill.”

“Our farmers and ranchers are facing the worst drought in modern history,” said Walz. “This important action by the USDA will work to give farmers and ranchers who own livestock peace of mind during these difficult times. Moving forward, I will continue working with Rep. Peterson to push leadership to pass the new five year Farm Bill in the House.”

For agriculture producers interested in expanded haying, grazing or forage planting options they should contact their local NRCS office or to visit the Minnesota NRCS website at t www.mn.nrcs.usda.gov