WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) last week called for emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands to help livestock producers suffering from sustained and critical drought.
The following is the text of the letter the Senators sent to U.S. Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tom Vilsack dated Thursday:
“Thank you for your commitment to provide every USDA resource to help producers and communities deal with the devastating effects of an ongoing drought. In many Kansas counties, the drought rivals that of the 1930s. While many parts of the country have received much-needed rainfall, according to the July 2, 2013 Drought Monitor, 85 percent of Kansas is suffering from four and in some cases five years of drought.
“Illustrating the cumulative effects of drought in our state, the July 1, 2012 Drought Monitor Index listed zero percent of Kansas in the D-4 category and 18 percent D-3. Only a year later, conditions have deteriorated to 24 percent D-4 and 21 percent D-3.
“The Kansas State Farm Service Agency (FSA) Committee, FSA Executive Director Adrian Polansky, and the State Technical Committee are considering several proposals for the use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage in 2013. These proposals should be consistent with the relief that was granted in 2012. We urge you to swiftly authorize those actions so they can effectively respond to Kansas’ deteriorating conditions. USDA should reject any proposal that adds additional requirements on a producer’s ability to utilize CRP acreage under emergency haying and grazing provisions.
“USDA agencies and personnel have forged a partnership with farmers, ranchers, local communities and state government agencies to utilize every available resource and program authority for survival and sustainability until weather patterns improve. Without adequate forage, the Kansas cattle industry, which generates more than $7 billion in cash receipts annually, will be impacted as producers will be forced to sell their cattle. Irreplaceable genetics and traits bred for generations could be lost in the open market jeopardizing our state’s leading industry.
“Access to additional forage resources will reduce the pressure on non-CRP native grass which will help facilitate restoration of quality and quantity of vegetation for livestock and wildlife habitat when normal rainfall returns. Thank you for your consideration and timely response to this critical situation.”
Sen. Roberts is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Sen. Moran is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.