WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following this year’s severe drought in states including Oklahoma and Texas, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) requested U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas Vilsack to reduce or eliminate fees to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants who participate in emergency grazing and hayingduring periods of severe droughts. Inhofe was joined on the letter by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas).
In previous years, the USDA has reduced payments to CRP participants by up to 15 percentage points during stretches of severe weather. This last reduction occurred in 2008.
“Like many times before, the USDA must once again help our livestock producers and CRP participants by reducing emergency grazing and haying fees after this year’s drought,” said Inhofe. “This is a simple way to assist the agricultural community during their time of need. The current assessment fee for CRP participants of 25 percent is simply too high considering the actual economic value of the haying and grazing. In previous years, the USDA has reduced this fee, and they must act again to help our nation’s livestock producers recover from this devastating drought.”
In the letter, the Senators wrote, “Given the severe nature of this drought, we urge you to carefully consider the true economic cost associated with emergency grazing and haying, particularly as it relates to any long term damage caused to the land as a result of the grazing and haying. It is our belief that the 25 percent assessment fee is excessive, especially in light of the fact that the CRP’s capacity to conserve sensitive lands is only partially – if minimally – affected by the activities associated with emergency grazing and haying.”