Additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres will be opened up for emergency haying and grazing to provide much-needed feed for livestock, announces Tom Vilsack, USDA ag secretary.

“Given the widespread nature of this drought, forage for livestock is already substantially reduced,” a July 23 USDA press release read. “The action today will allow lands that are not yet classified as ‘under severe drought’ but that are ‘abnormally dry’ to be used for haying and grazing.”

Haying and grazing will only be allowed after the local primary nesting season, which has already passed in most areas. Especially sensitive lands such as wetlands, stream buffers and rare habitats will not be eligible.

Vilsack authorized changes in three other programs to help farmers and ranchers dealing with drought. Those programs are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program – also called EQIP – the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Federal Crop Insurance Program.

For more on those changes, visit the USDA Web site.