US - The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), acting in response to a directive from President Donald J. Trump, authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Programme (CRP) lands located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas – the three states which were most heavily impacted by ongoing wildfires which began on 6 March 2017.
USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young issued a memorandum authorizing the emergency grazing of cattle by ranchers, who are facing the ruination of their herds due to lack of sufficient grazing land. The authorization is pursuant to appropriate restrictions and conservation measures, which can be found in the Acting Deputy Secretary’s memorandum.
“Ranchers are facing devastating conditions and economic calamity because of these wildfires and they need some relief, or else they face the total loss of their herds in many cases,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Young. “These measures will allow them to salvage what remains of their cattle and return to the important business of feeding Americans and the rest of the world. I commend and thank President Trump for acting decisively in response to this dire situation.”
The USDA action is required to direct the Farm Service Agency to permit the grazing on lands covered by the CRP, which exists to conserve and improve wildlife resources. In this case, the grazing will overlap with the primary nesting season of the lesser prairie chicken.
CRP has procedures in place, already developed with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to permit emergency grazing on protected lands during nesting season. Lesser prairie chicken nesting season runs in Texas from 1 March to 1 June, in Kansas from 15 April to 15 July, and in Oklahoma from 1 May to 1 July.
Ranchers and farmers are only now able to begin to estimate losses, since the fires are still burning in some places and access to the lands to survey the damage has been limited.
Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, released a statement in response to the USDA’s authorization.
Mr Uden said: "President Trump, the USDA, and Governors Brownback, Fallin, and Abbott deserve a great deal of credit for moving swiftly to open these lands to grazing so that many of the cattle producers who were dramatically impacted by last month’s wildfires can feed their herds.
"Those devastating wildfires burned more than 1.5 million acres in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas and killed an estimated 9,000 – 18,000 cattle. Those cattle can’t be replaced, but today’s action will help ranchers salvage what remains of their herds."
TheCattleSite News Desk