Steve Pope/AP
A view of downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa shows widespread flooding from the raging Cedar
River. (AP)

USDA to Open Up Conservation Areas to Flood-Victim Farmers

July 09, 2008 04:41 PM
by Anne Szustek
The department agreed to free up land secured under the Conservation Reserve Program to livestock producers for grazing to mitigate the effects of grain prices and waterlogged fields.

30-Second Summary

The USDA announced its move late Monday after requests from Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, Sen. Tom Harkin and state agriculture secretary Bill Northey to release protected land.

Harkin said in a statement, “The recent flood and excessive rainfall have adversely impacted each sector of agriculture in the Midwest. … Now we are seeing a shortage of feed availability coupled with high feed prices. … That’s why access to CRP land is so important.”

The Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers to set aside land for conservation efforts such as planting ground-retaining vegetation. Millions of acres have been registered for aid under the USDA-backed initiative.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said in a statement that the department’s decision to free up CRP land is vital to the sustainability of American farming, and that it was made “knowing that we must redouble our conservation effort at every future opportunity.”

Livestock farmers in eligible counties must apply to their local Farm Services Agency office and receive approval before allowing their animals to graze on CPR land. Participants in the CRP who decide to release acreage set aside for environmental efforts will receive a 25 percent cut in rent payments.

The USDA’s decision applies to counties in 16 states, including much of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. A full list of counties eligible for the program is available from the USDA.

Headline Link: ‘USDA Opens Conservation Land for Grazing’

Background: Record flooding leaves America’s Breadbasket under water

Reactions: Flood crisis 'calls for drastic action'

Opinion & Analysis: Conservationists vs. cattleman

Reference: The Conservation Reserve Program


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