U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, this week introduced legislation that would allow emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres during the COVID-19 health crisis. Under current statute, emergency CRP haying and grazing is limited to weather-related disaster events.
“We are experiencing a global health pandemic, and farmers and ranchers are feeling the economic impact,” said Thune. “Our bill is straightforward—allowing emergency haying and grazing would help producers ensure adequate forage for the livestock they are having to keep longer than expected due to low prices and meat processing capacity shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. My hope is that this will provide our ag economy, South Dakota’s top industry, with much-needed assistance at this time.”
“Opening up CRP land to emergency haying and grazing will help livestock producers in Minnesota and across the country who have been hit hard by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Smith. “With these added acres available to them, it will help to soften the devastating economic blow to the livestock industry caused by COVID-19 when meat processing plant and restaurant closures unexpectedly eliminated much of the market for their products. I’m glad to work with Senator Thune on this bipartisan effort to support producers during this very difficult and uncertain time.”
U.S. Reps. Roger Marshall (R. Kans.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.