Dear Dept. of Ag. Commissioner Thom Petersen, Farm Services Agency Director Michelle Page and Minnesota congressional delegation,
An abnormally dry June throughout much of Minnesota is now impacting pastures in our state and may soon force cattle farmers to sell livestock or make other difficult decisions before they run out of grass for grazing.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates roughly half of Minnesota’s pasture and range land is in very poor or poor condition. We have reached the point where additional rain received may slightly aid regrowth but is unlikely to provide substantial benefits to this year’s crop.
One way we could mitigate this problem is by allowing expanded emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres. The emergency release of CRP for haying and grazing already has previously proven successful in providing valuable feed in local areas during desperate times such as the period we are experiencing.
Changes have been made in recent years to allow greater emergency access to CRP for these purposes amid drought conditions and numerous Minnesota counties already have become eligible. I kindly urge you to revisit this issue and further expand this latitude to the counties I represent - Lac qui Parle, Lyon, Redwood and Yellow Medicine - and beyond, as warranted.
Farmers, the agriculture industry, and our society in general have faced extraordinary challenges the last year and a half as we continue working to overcome obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The simple action such of allowing haying and grazing on more CRP lands in the counties I represent would provide great relief to farmers in our area and provide more Minnesotans with a sense our government is working alongside them to help withstand this latest burden.
State Rep. Chris Swedzinski