USDA extended Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage eligible for emergency haying and grazing on Friday.

Specifically, eligible acres now include land in an area radiating 210 miles out from all counties previously approved for emergency haying and grazing in Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oregon and Tennessee.

Only livestock operations located within approved counties are eligible for emergency haying or grazing of CRP acreage. CRP participants who do not own or lease livestock may rent or lease the grazing privilege to an eligible livestock farmer located in an approved county. Producers with CRP acreage that is hayed or grazed will be assessed a 10% reduction in their annual rental payment.

"We are closely monitoring the drought and providing assistance when we can," says USDA Secretary Mike Johanns.

To be approved for emergency haying or grazing, a county must be listed as a level "D3 Drought -- Extreme" or greater according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html, or have suffered at least a 40% loss of normal moisture and forage for the preceding 4-month qualifying period. USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) state committees may authorize emergency haying or grazing of CRP land in counties currently listed as level D3 drought. CRP participants who want to apply for emergency haying and grazing to their local FSA office must wait until after the nesting season for certain birds.

You can find maps and more information on emergency haying and grazing at local FSA offices and online at: www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=copr&topic=crp-eg.