Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue opened the lands to cattle until Sept. 30. 
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue approved emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota on June 23. Emergency grazing is authorized to begin immediately and extends through Sept. 30, unless conditions improve.

All three states are experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions — indicated as categories D2 and D3 on the US Drought Monitor.

“Due to reduced availability of forage, ranchers in the hardest hit locations have already been culling their herds,” Perdue said. “Without alternative forage options like grazing CRP lands, livestock producers are faced with the economically devastating potential of herd liquidation.”

CRP is a voluntary program determined by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land and, when needed, supply emergency relief to livestock producers suffering the impacts of natural disasters.

“If the drought continues and pasture recovery becomes less likely, feed supplies will decline, the quality and quantity of hay is reduced, and stock water becomes scarce — considerable stressors for both the livestock and our producers,” Perdue said. “If opening up grazing lands reduces even some of these stressors for these ranchers, then it’s the right thing for us to do.”