USDA: 24 mln acres for livestock feed needs
Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has announced that the USDA has
authorised certain acreage under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to be
available for hay and forage after the primary nesting season ends for
"This action will provide much needed feed and forage while maintaining the
conservation benefits from the nation's premier conservation program," said
Schafer. "Eligible farmers and ranchers will be able to plan for harvest of
forage after the end of the primary nesting season this summer."
Prices for most field crops have advanced to record or near record levels
in recent months, reflecting strong demand, tight supplies and competition for
acres. The increased demand for commodities and resulting higher prices has
impacted the livestock industry in particular, says the USDA.
More than 24 million acres of land enrolled in CRP will be eligible for
this critical feed use program. USDA estimates that this will allow up to 18 mln
tonnes of forage worth $1.2 bln.
"In authorising this critical use of CRP acres for forage, USDA is also
taking strong measures to preserve CRP's environmental benefits," said Schafer.
Eligible land may not be hayed or grazed until after the end of the primary
nesting season. Also, some of the eligible land or forage of the land must be
reserved for wildlife and any land that is used under this authority must have a
conservation plan. In many instances, the removal of some of the grass cover
will increase the diversity of the stand and provide long-term benefits for
wildlife. Further, the most environmentally-sensitive land enrolled in CRP will
not be eligible. 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.
interested CRP participants will begin in June. This modification for critical
feed use is only for 2008. All forage use must be completed no later than
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