Emergency Grazing Opened in Drought Impacted Northern Plains

Emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands by  Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for producers in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana impacted by drought.  

"Due to reduced availability of forage, ranchers in the hardest hit locations have already been culling their herds," Perdue says. "Without alternative forage options like grazing CRP lands, livestock producers are faced with the economically devastating potential of herd liquidation."

All three states have some sort of extreme drought (D3), which is the 2nd to worst rating according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Here is a run down on the amount of severe drought (D2, in orange), the 3rd worst rating:

Montana: 12.34%

North Dakota: 39.9%

South Dakota: 20.29%

Emergency grazing is authorized immediately and is avaliable until Sept. 30, pending if conditions don't improve. Livestock grazers will need to work with their lcoal Natural Resources Conservation Service office to develop a plan for grazing specific sites. 

"If the drought continues and pasture recovery becomes less likely, feed supplies will decline, the quality and quantity of hay is reduced and stock water becomes scarce – considerable stressors for both the livestock and our producers," Perdue says. "If opening up grazing lands reduces even some of these stressors for these ranchers, then it’s the right thing for us to do."

Eligible CRP participants can use the acreage for grazing their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reductions assessed for acres grazed.