U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would release Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)-enrolled acres to grazing in counties reaching the D2 (severe drought) and D3 (extreme drought) categories in the U.S. Drought Monitor in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.
“Portions of South Dakota are in the midst of one of the most severe droughts we’ve seen since the disastrous 2012 drought,” said Thune. “I’m glad to see USDA take these important first steps that will give our farmers and ranchers additional pasture as they cope with these tough conditions. While today’s decision is good news, there’s more than can be done, including opening up these lands to haying. I will continue to work closely with USDA to ensure all that can be done is being done.”
Last week, Thune and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that emergency haying and grazing on CRP land in eligible counties be accelerated and that more than 484,000 acres of land enrolled in CRP considered environmentally sensitive be made eligible for emergency haying and grazing in eligible counties.
Counties in South Dakota eligible for emergency grazing of CRP include: Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Corson, Ziebach, Haakon, Dewey, Stanley, Campbell, Walworth, Potter, Sully, Hughes, McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Hyde, Hand, and Brown.