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DU supports grazing on CRP in ND flood-impacted areas

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BISMARCK, ND – May 4, 2009 – Ducks Unlimited supports the recent announcement by the U. S. Department of Agriculture to extend grazing opportunities on Conservation Reserve Program grasslands in areas of North Dakota that have been impacted by flooding this spring.  The announcement extends the April 30 deadline that was set up to help ranchers who are dealing with flooding in pastures normally used for calving and grazing.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture estimates approximately 72,000 calves have already died this spring due to flooding and cold, wet weather.

Last week, DU, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust sent a letter to U. S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, expressing support for a CRP grazing extension request by the North Dakota Congressional delegation and ND Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring.

“The winter and spring of 2009 have been very challenging for North Dakota’s ranchers,” said Steve Adair, director of DU’s Great Plains Regional Office.  “Ranchers and the livestock industry are a vital part of North Dakota’s economy. DU recognizes grassland habitats are equally critical to ranchers’ operations and for maintaining healthy wildlife populations in North Dakota.”

DU has a long history of supporting the needs of North Dakota ranchers during weather-related emergencies.  In 2008, DU supported the Critical Feed Use Initiative, a USDA program to respond to record commodity prices that would have opened nearly 24 million acres of CRP lands nationwide to haying and grazing.  DU initiated a Grasslands Partnership Program in 2006 that provided financial assistance to ranchers developing livestock watering projects in drought-stricken areas of the Missouri Coteau in central North Dakota.

Adair says CRP has been extremely successful for breeding waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains. More than 2.2 million waterfowl are produced each year on CRP land in the PPR.

“Maintenance of the large expanse of CRP is critical to wildlife populations, but so is maintaining a vibrant and extensive ranching industry,” Adair said. “Having CRP evolve and continue to work for ranchers is important for maintaining prairie wildlife and our rural communities.”

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

Media contact:
Jennifer Kross, 701-202-8896, jkross@ducks.org
Becky Jones Mahlum, 701-355-3507, bjonesmahlum@ducks.org
For more information on the Conservation Reserve Program, www.ducks.org/CRP

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