Friday, May 30, 2008

CRP acres are open to haying or grazing after July 15

On Tuesday (5/27/08) Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced that USDA has authorized Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage be made available for haying and/or grazing after the primary nesting season ends for grass-nesting birds. In Ohio, this means these acres may become feed for livestock after July 15 and until November 10, 2008.

According to the USDA press release, this action has been taken to provide additional feed and forage to livestock producers due to the significant increases in the values of most field crops which have in turn created competition for acres. The release goes on to say more than 24 million acres of land enrolled in CRP will be eligible for this feed use program. USDA estimates this program will make available up to 18 million tons of forage worth $1.2 billion.

The CRP lands deemed the most environmentally-sensitive will not be eligible, and acres which are eligible will be subject to a site inspection to ensure compliance with a modified conservation plan which must be obtained from NRCS or a Technical Service Provider (TSP). No rental payment reduction will be assessed on contracts being utilized for this use, however, a $75 fee will be charged to process the required contract modification through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In addition, participants agree to:

* Re-establish at their cost any CRP cover destroyed.
* Limit haying to one cutting.
* Not hay and graze the same acreage.
* If haying, leave at least 50% of each field unhayed.
* If grazing, leave at least 25% of each field ungrazed, or graze all of the CRP acreage at no more than 75% of the stocking rate as determined under the modified conservation plan for the field.

For Ohio cattlemen and sheep producers with CRP acres planted to cool season grasses, forages harvested under the guidelines of this program can most likely be utilized similar to other low protein, high lignin feeds we worked with during last year's drought. As described in Francis Fluharty's article Protein and Energy Supplementation of Crop Residues for Breeding Cattle published last fall in the Ohio BEEF Cattle letter, low quality forages become 30% more digestible when processed or ground, and must be supplemented with appropriate amounts of protein. Distillers grains may be an excellent protein source for balancing the cool season, high lignin forages which result. Review the article from last August Ohio BEEF Cattle letter entitled Distillers Grains With Solubles by Steve Boyles or the OSU Extension fact sheet Distillers Grains for more information on utilizing distillers.

Ohio cattlemen or sheep producers with CRP acres planted to warm season grasses may have less feed quality issues than those with the cool season grasses. Review Bob Hendershot's July of 2008 Ohio BEEF Cattle letter article entitled Potential of CRP Wram Season Grasses for Hay for more detail on utilizing warm season forages planted on CRP acres.

Signup for the opportunity to hay or graze CRP acres under this new program begins June 2 at local FSA offices and is only available for 2008. All haying or grazing on the enrolled acres must be completed no later than November 10, 2008. Additional details including the Secretary's announcement press release, a fact sheet, and maps indicating the primary nesting dates for all states are available at

Contact your local FSA office for assistance regarding enrollment in this program.