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Published August 01, 2012, 04:12 PM

Minn. cattlemen ask for expanded CRP grazing, haying

The Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association on Wednesday asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to open all Conservation Reserve Program acres in the state, including lands enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program, to emergency haying and grazing.

By: Agweek Staff Report, Agweek

The Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association on Wednesday asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to open all Conservation Reserve Program acres in the state, including lands enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program, to emergency haying and grazing.

Thirty-six percent of Minnesota pasture and rangeland is in poor or very poor condition, according to USDA statistics released Monday.

Following is a copy of the letter sent by the Minnesota cattlemen:

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

I am writing to you in regards to the growing concern of lack of available forage in Minnesota to sustain our cow herds. While we want to thank you for your recent announcement to expedite the option for haying and grazing of lands enrolled in Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, it is critical that your office order the immediate opening of all lands enrolled in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP).

Minnesota currently has over 124,000 acres enrolled in the CCRP, with over 80,000 of those acres being enrolled in CP23 wetland programs. It is critical that you authorize the opening of these acres for emergency haying and grazing, as in many cases these areas are currently holding the best quality forage that is left in the countryside.

If you are unable to open up these acres, I would appreciate a specific explanation as to why the USDA is limited in their authority and what actions, if any, the Congress would need to make.

In the long-term interests of promoting working lands conservation, and to maintain the support from the agriculture community to enroll marginal lands in conservation programs, I would encourage you to move promptly as forage quality is rapidly deteriorating.

Sincerely,

Don Schiefelbein, President

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