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Vilsack announces program changes to deal with drought

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday announced several ways in which conservation programs have been made more flexible to help farmers deal with the drought.

In a call to reporters from Iowa, Vilsack said rules for the following programs would be altered:

The Conservation Reserve Program:


Lands that are not yet classified as “under severe drought” but that are “abnormally dry” can be used for haying and grazing to increase available forage for livestock. Haying and grazing will only be allowed following the local primary nesting season, which has already passed in most areas. Especially sensitive lands such as wetlands, stream buffers and rare habitats will not be eligible.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)


Where conservation activities have failed because of drought, NRCS will look for opportunities to work with farmers and ranchers to re-apply those activities. In the short term, funding will be targeted towards hardest hit drought areas.

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)


For producers with land currently enrolled in WRP, NRCS has expedited its Compatible Use Authorization process to allow for haying and grazing in drought areas.