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Limited haying or grazing of CRP acres is allowed

WILLMAR -- After several months of unusually dry weather and a smaller-than-expected second cutting of alfalfa hay, livestock producers should note the provisions that allow limited haying or grazing of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

In accordance with those provisions, the use of CRP acres for haying or grazing is limited to specific conservation practices. For example, haying or grazing is prohibited on acres devoted to filter strips, tree plantings and wetland restorations.

Haying or grazing is also prohibited on land located within 120 feet of streams or other permanent bodies of water. In addition, haying or grazing is allowed only on acres where the cover crop has been fully established for at least one year.

Haying or grazing is only permitted once every three years on the same acres, including any previous approvals under either the emergency or critical feed use provisions of the Conservation Reserve Program.

Haying or grazing cannot occur during the primary nesting or brood rearing season, which locally ends Aug. 1. Therefore haying or grazing cannot begin until after that date.

A payment reduction of 25 percent of the annual rental rate will be assessed on the number of acres hayed or grazed.

Program participants who do not own livestock may rent or lease the privilege to hay or graze their acres to a livestock producer. However, any livestock producers renting or leasing haying or grazing privileges must sign a statement agreeing that they will not sublease the acres.

Hay harvested under these provisions may be sold to anyone at any price.

Before haying or grazing can begin, Conservation Reserve Program participants will need to visit their USDA Service Center and indicate on aerial maps which acres they wish to hay or graze, and sign all required documents.

Deadline forFSA committee nominationsis Aug. 3

The deadline to submit nominations for the Farm Service Agency's 2009 county committee election is Aug. 3.

Eligible voters can nominate, by petition, candidates of their choice. Nomination forms (FSA-669A) are available at county FSA offices, or online at:

FSA is especially interested in receiving nominations of individuals that represent minority groups, including women.

Election ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters by Nov. 6. Candidates elected to the county committee will begin serving three-year terms on Jan. 1.

Informational meeting scheduledat Atwateron new CSP

The Kandiyohi County Natural Resources Conservation Service will host a public informational meeting on the new Conservation Stewardship Program. The meeting will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 11 at the Atwater Community Center.

Authorized by the 2008 farm bill, the new Conservation Stewardship Program, formerly known as the Conservation Security Program, has been simplified and expanded to help farmers maintain, establish and increase conservation on land they are actively farming.

The 2008 farm bill made several significant modifications. One such modification is that the new the program will no longer use watershed boundaries to determine which farmers are eligible to sign up on an annual basis. Instead, all farmers across the country are eligible to enroll.

Secondly, the three-tier structure has been scrapped for a whole-farm sign-up approach. The option to enroll just one field is no longer available.

Lastly, sign-ups will now be accepted on a continuous basis, utilizing a new ranking system that will bring greater clarity and predictability to the program and the sign-up process.

Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air and related natural resources on their land. Eligible land includes cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pasture and nonindustrial private forest lands.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.