Emergency Haying and Grazing

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USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enrolled in CRP establish long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion, and enhance wildlife habitat. In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.

The Food Security Act of 1985, as amended, authorized CRP. The program is also governed by regulations published in 7 CFR Part 1410. The program is implemented by FSA on behalf of USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.

Haying and Grazing

Haying and grazing of CRP acreage is authorized under certain conditions to improve the quality and performance of the CRP cover or to provide emergency relief to livestock producers due to certain natural disasters. There are two types of haying and grazing authorization: managed and emergency.

Primary Nesting Season

Generally, CRP acreage may not be hayed or grazed during the Primary Nesting Season for certain wildlife established by state FSA committees in consultation with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Technical Committee.

Emergency Haying and Grazing

Emergency haying and grazing of CRP acreage may be authorized to provide relief to livestock producers in areas affected by a severe drought or similar natural disaster. Emergency authorization is provided by either a national FSA office authorization or by a state FSA committee determination utilizing the U.S. Drought Monitor.

National FSA Authorization

County eligibility is based on a county FSA committee request documenting a 40 percent or greater loss in normal hay and pasture production and either:

  • for drought conditions, precipitation levels at an average of 40 percent or greater loss of normal precipitation for the 4 most recent months plus the days in the current month before the date of request; or
  • for excessive moisture conditions, precipitation levels at an average of 140 percent or greater increase in normal precipitation during the 4 most recent consecutive months plus the days in the current month before the date of request.
  • Emergency haying or grazing is limited to the acreage physically located within the boundary of the eligible county or portion of a county. Under this authority, acreage will only be authorized for a specified time and may end earlier than announced if conditions improve.
State FSA Committee Determination (Drought Only)

County FSA committees may request emergency haying or grazing outside the primary nesting season for all or part of a county from the state FSA committee using the U.S. Drought Monitor. The state FSA committee may generally approve emergency haying and grazing on a county-by-county basis if the county is designated as level ”D2 Drought - Severe” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Drought Monitor is available online at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

Under this state committee determination, emergency haying is authorized for a single period through Aug. 31. Emergency grazing is authorized for a single period through Sept. 30.

Eligible Acreage

Acreage eligible for managed or emergency haying and grazing includes acreage devoted to the following practices: CP1, CP2, CP4B, CP4D, CP10, CP18B, CP18C and CP38 in certain States.

Ineligible Acreage

Acreage ineligible for managed or emergency haying and grazing includes acreage devoted to:

  • Useful life easements
  • Land within 120 feet of a stream or other permanent water body
  • The following pratices: CP3, CP3A, CP5A, CP8A, CP9, CP11, CP12, CP15A, CP15B, CP17A, CP21, CP22, CP23, CP24, CP25, CP27, CP28, CP29, CP30, CP31, CP32, CP33, CP35A-I, CP36, CP37, CP38 in certain States, CP39, CP40, CP41 and CP42.

Modified Conservation Plan

Before CRP acreage is declared eligible for haying or grazing, a modified conservation plan developed by NRCS or a technical service provider must be obtained. The modified conservation plan must be site specific, include the authorized duration, and reflect local wildlife needs and concerns. The primary purpose must be to maintain vegetative cover, minimize soil erosion, and protect water quality and wildlife habitat quality.

File Request Before Starting

CRP participants requesting emergency or managed haying and grazing must file a request with their county FSA office indicating the acreage to be hayed or grazed before the activity begins.

Required Payment Reduction

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) repealed the payment reduction for 2014 and future years. CRP participants approved for emergency haying or grazing after Feb. 7, 2014, will not be assessed a payment reduction.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C., 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.