Producers in drought-stricken counties approved for emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres will have to give up less of their rental payments than previously expected.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer decided to lower the payment reduction on those acres from the previously announced 25 percent to 10 percent at the request of Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

“Secretary Schafer today agreed to right a wrong,” Conrad said in a statement released by his office in Washington. “This rate reduction will give a bit of additional assistance to our drought stricken ranchers in western North Dakota.” (Farmers in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas will also be affected.)

The CRP offers annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term resource-conserving cover on eligible land. To be approved for emergency haying or grazing, a county must have suffered extreme drought conditions or have suffered at least a 40-percent loss of normal moisture and forage for four months.

To participate, livestock producers in counties approved for emergency haying or grazing assistance must certify they are an eligible livestock producer in an eligible county approved for emergency haying and grazing and that they are requesting emergency haying and grazing of eligible CRP acreage from another eligible CRP participant who is willing to provide hay or grazing.

The primary nesting and brood rearing season of the state where the land to be hayed or grazed is located will be respected.

CRP participants who do not own or lease livestock may rent or lease the grazing privilege to an eligible livestock farmer located in an approved county.

For all land enrolled in CRP that has been approved for emergency haying and grazing due to drought only, the Farm Service Agency will reduce the payment reduction from 25 percent, which was announced earlier, to 10 percent. This 10-percent payment reduction will be assessed based on the number of acres actually hayed or grazed times the CRP annual rental rate times 10 percent.

The following counties have been approved for emergency haying and grazing due to drought:

Kansas: Sherman, Wallace, Hamilton, Stanton, Grant, Greeley, Haskell, Stevens

Oklahoma: Cimarron

Texas: Briscoe, Castro, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Hansford, Hardeman, Hartley, Lipscomb, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Sherman, Swisher

More information on emergency haying and grazing is available at local FSA offices and online at: www.fsa.usda.gov, click on Conservation.