Decision Gives Conservation Land to Graziers

WASHINGTON, D.C., US - American farmers have been allowed to graze their animals on the Conservation Reserve Program acreage, after the decision went to a courtroom in Seattle. The provisions were part of the Critical Feed Use program originally announced in May, but countered by conservation groups.
calendar icon 25 July 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

“The court recognized that this temporary USDA program will be of great benefit to farmers and ranchers in dealing with the increased costs of feeding livestock,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

The program was designed by USDA to allow the use of CRP acreage for critical feed use. The program was challenged by a lawsuit from the National Wildlife Federation, claiming USDA did not follow proper procedure regarding an environmental assessment.

The judge issued a narrow permanent injunction to allow those producers with approved CRP contracts to continue operations through the program’s original Nov. 10 deadline. Farmers and ranchers who sent applications but have not received approvals will have their applications processed. If approved, those producers may hay until Sept. 30 or graze until Oct. 15.

Farmers and ranchers who have not yet sent applications may do so provided they submit in their application a statement explaining their reliance on the CFU program. The reliance statement should indicate whether the producer made investments or preparations of $4,500 or more and provide documentation. If the contract is approved, those producers also will be able to hay until Sept. 30 or graze until Oct. 15.

Prior to today’s ruling, AFBF and other ag groups filed two friend-of-the court briefs on behalf of farmers and ranchers in the case. The first brief provided details from 29 farmers and ranchers on the management decisions and investments they made in preparation to take part in the program. The second brief addressed possible remedies that could be taken to consider the positions of the affected farmers and ranchers.

“We firmly believe our documentation of the good faith efforts and investments taken by farmers and ranchers to participate in a program, which was announced in May, weighed heavily in the judge’s deliberations,” said AFBF General Counsel Julie Anna Potts. “That is why we were invited to present additional information before the judge and why the program was not thrown out on first consideration. Involvement from our members made a difference.”

The critical feed use program was designed to give eligible farmers and ranchers permission for “special, one-time” hay and forage use of certain CRP acreage after the primary nesting season ends for grass-nesting birds. The program was developed with the goal of providing some relief for livestock producers by reducing record-high feed costs. According to USDA estimates, the initiative would generate around 18 million tons of hay, worth approximately $1.2 billion. The critical feed use initiative is not related to emergency use of CRP land.

Further Reading

- You can view the Court Ruling by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.