Sen. Schultz, Rep. Tranel: Urge USDA to free up acreage for grazing, haying
With Wisconsin’s agricultural sector facing its driest growing season in a quarter century, State Senator Dale Schultz and Assembly Representative Travis Tranel called upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for haying and grazing to combat historic drought conditions.
On July 11, the USDA said it would lower producers’ annual rent payment on CRP acres used for emergency haying or grazing from 25 percent to 10 percent. However, Schultz and Tranel think farmers need even more flexibility after the U.S. Drought Monitor on July 12 changed the southern third of the state, including the region Schultz and Tranel represent, from “moderate” to “severe” drought conditions.
“Today’s drought condition update confirms what Wisconsin farmers already know,” Schultz said. “This is the worst summer we’ve seen since 1988, and it calls for an exceptional measure like opening up that CRP acreage.”
“We commend Secretary Vilsack for already acting to reduce CRP payments for drought stricken producers and we can do more,” Tranel said. “As farmers attempt to cope with these historic circumstances, they need access to every tool in the shed.”
Schultz and Tranel also joined Governor Scott Walker in encouraging the state’s crop and livestock farmers to seek out resources available to cope with the drought.
On Monday, July 9, Gov. Walker declared a drought emergency in 42 counties, enabling farmers to contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to seek an expedited permit to use stream or lake water for irrigation. Farm families can seek advice and information on any farming related concern from the Wisconsin Farm Center at DATCP by calling toll‐free to 1‐800‐942‐2474, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The center is staffed 7:45 a.m‐4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
Farmers can use the University of Wisconsin Extension’s “Drought 2012” resource web site, which provides frequent updates and useful information on subjects ranging from groundwater levels, crop insurance, and the effects of heat stress on livestock. The web address is fyi.uwex.edu/drought2012