USDA OKs grazing on conservation program land

Because of drought conditions in Northwest Colorado, the Farm Service Agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture has authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program land in Moffat County until Sept. 30.

Phyllis Lake, the acting county executive director for the agency, said the goal is to provide forage for livestock where it's needed most.

"There are quite a few people coming in," Lake said. "People in Craig can also go to other counties or Wyoming to graze their livestock on CRP acreage."

CRP participants who do not own or lease livestock may rent or lease the grazing privilege to eligible livestock producers.

CRP annual rental payments will be reduced by 10 percent for acres grazed. Producers must visit the local USDA Service Center to request grazing privileges before relocating livestock.

Lake said the noninsured as----sistance program covers crops other than wheat, barley and oats, including hay crops. She also said people with losses need to act.

"If they have a loss on grazing or hay production, they need to get into the office and file a claim," Lake said. "We have had good response up to this point."

Mark McStay has crops of grass and rye north of Craig. He said he has taken advantage of the insurance program.

"I've got three claims in," McStay said.

When asked about waiting until the first of the year to receive payments, his thoughts turned to his fellow farmers.

"I hope people can hang on that long." McStay said.

The department declared Moffat County a natural disaster area August 10, making all qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency.

The USDA will monitor producers to ensure the land is grazed in a manner that does not damage existing conservation covers.

"Extending CRP grazing privileges to Moffat County producers provides immediate, short-term relief to producers in need of forage," Lake said.

For more information, producers should visit the local Farm Service Agency at 356 Ranney St. or visit www.fsa.usda.gov.

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