Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune today received notice that the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) will announce later today its decision to immediately release CRP acres in 20 South Dakota counties for emergency haying and grazing. Senator Thune made a call to USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner on June 29 to stress the importance of releasing the acres quickly to assist South Dakota farmers and ranchers. Senator Thune, along with the rest of the congressional delegation, also sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns on June 22, urging him to honor the requests made by the South Dakota Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in Huron for the emergency release of CRP acres. Senator Thune has also been working closely with Governor Mike Rounds and state FSA officials to coordinate the requests on behalf of South Dakota's farmers and ranchers.

"I was pleased to receive this important news this morning from Deputy Secretary Conner. Opening up CRP acres for emergency haying and grazing is a step that will provide significant relief to our farmers and ranchers as drought conditions have made an unfortunate early arrival this year," Senator Thune said. "During my recent visits to the affected areas, farmers and ranchers stressed that this was a critical next step in drought relief. I'm thankful Secretary Johanns has honored our request and will release this land to soften the blow of a dangerously dry season for our farmers and ranchers, the backbone of South Dakota's economy."

In the last several weeks, Senator Thune and members of his staff have toured a number of drought-affected counties across the state.

The USDA decision also released CP23 (Wetlands Restoration) acres in the covered counties for grazing.

Once a county is approved for emergency haying and grazing, farmers or ranchers must then apply for approval at their local FSA office. Those individuals who choose to graze the acres must leave 25% of the acreage untouched, grazing at 75% of stocking rate. For haying, only 50% of the acres can be used. For both options, the producer is assessed 25% of his annual payment.

The counties covered by today's USDA decision include: Beadle, Campbell, Corson, Dewey, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, Hughes, Hyde, Jerauld, Jones, Lyman, McPherson, Perkins, Potter, Sanborn, Stanley, Sully, Walworth, and Ziebach.

Senator Thune will host a media conference call today at 12:30pm EDT to further discuss today's announcements.