With persistent flooding threatening the successful harvest of forage crops in his state, Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg recently sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking USDA to open Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for haying and grazing.

“It was recently brought to my attention that producers who grow hay, alfalfa and other types of forage are deeply concerned that the flooding in their fields will leave them unable to harvest a strong crop this year,” Rehberg wrote. “In some areas of northeastern Montana, the hayfields have been under water since April.

“As you know, livestock producers depend on the forage harvested during the summer months to feed their cattle during the winter months. To ensure that livestock producers have enough forage available to feed their herds, I am asking you to open up Montana's CRP acreage to emergency haying and grazing.”

He pointed out that, in early June, Gov. Brian Schweitzer requested a presidential disaster declaration for 37 of Montana’s 56 counties. Since then, “the flooding continues to worsen due to a wet forecast and a record snowpack that is just beginning to melt. As the crisis deepens, Montana’s agriculture producers are confronting the harsh reality their fields may be under water for some time,” Rehberg told Vilsack.

“I urge you to open up available CRP acres to emergency haying and grazing so that Montana’s livestock producers are not adversely impacted by the unprecedented flooding across the state,” he concluded.