MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Aug. 3, 2012 – Ducks Unlimited supports opening certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands to haying and grazing during the current drought affecting livestock feed supplies. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack opened nearly 4 million acres of CRP land this week for livestock producers dealing with shortages of hay and pastureland.
"Ranchers need help during these difficult times, so opening some CRP to haying and grazing now makes sense," said DU CEO Dale Hall. "Conservation landscapes are also working lands. CRP is not only valuable for waterfowl but also serves as an important grass reserve for our country's beef producers. We need CRP and native prairie on the landscape to meet the challenges of catastrophic conditions like these to help protect the livestock industry and our nation's food supply, keep grocery prices in check for American consumers and provide critical wildlife habitat."
Before the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opens up emergency haying and grazing on CRP lands in individual states, they must first review local wildlife concerns through a state technical committee process and decide whether to concur with Secretary Vilsack's decision. State technical committees are comprised of producers, agricultural groups and conservation organizations.
"With farmers and ranchers experiencing the worst drought in decades, we are fortunate to have CRP acres to hay and graze," said Jess Peterson, executive vice president of the U.S. Cattlemen's Association. "Done the right way, haying and grazing on CRP will be good for ranchers, waterfowl and the public at large."
Secretary Vilsack declared an additional 218 counties in 12 states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat. More than half of all counties in the United States have been designated as disaster areas by the USDA in 2012, mainly due to drought.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.
Becky Jones Mahlum