WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced it has authorized temporary emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands located in Kansas (including Ellsworth County), Oklahoma and Texas to help ranchers impacted by the wildfires.
USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young issued a memorandum authorizing the emergency grazing of cattle by ranchers. The authorization will remain in effect until Dec. 31.
According to USDA, estimated damages thus far for Kansas are:
• Counties affected include Clark, Comanche, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Hodgeman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Meade, Ness, Russell and Seward;
• An estimated 630,000 acres burned, primarily pasturelands;
• Estimated livestock loss: between 3,000 and 9,000 head of cattle;
• Large volumes of hay and feed destroyed; and
• Estimated cost of fencing destroyed exceeds $36 million.
The move was praised by members of the Kansas congressional delegation.
“Ranchers need every available acre of grass to feed the surviving cattle,” said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran. Moran recently met with Young to discuss the challenges facing farmers and ranchers impacted by the wildfires.
“Allowing emergency grazing of CRP acres will give producers additional options as they search for grassland for their livestock,” the Republican senator said. “I appreciate USDA’s continued attention on relief efforts and will continue to urge them to utilize every tool available to assist families devastated by the fires.”
This announcement will allow grazing to continue beyond the start of the primary nesting season, which begins in Kansas on April 15, Republican Congressman Roger Marshall said.
“This allowance delivers much-needed relief to producers in the impacted counties,” Marshall said. “I applaud the recognition and action from President Trump and the USDA to continue providing relief, in addition to providing support and guidance for producers in programs like the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Livestock Forage Program.”