USDA reserves 24mln acres for animal feed
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 grass-nesting
"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
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.
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.
Signup for 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 November
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