Idaho Ranchers Approved for Emergency Haying and Grazing

Jul 29, 2014

By Jean-Paul McDonald,

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has permitted emergency grazing and haying on land that is typically used for the Conservation Reserve Program in certain parts of eastern Idaho.

Regional officials in Bingham, Bonneville, Fremont, Madison and Power counties asked the USDA to approve emergency access to the lands due to drought conditions - which have parched pastures, resulting in poor crop yields.

Thanks to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency branch, cattle ranchers will have some resources to feed their herds. The agency announced Monday that their requests were approved. Authorization can be granted in times of emergency to provide relief to livestock producers due to certain natural disasters, in this case drought.

Rules dictate the specifics of the lands usage. For example, emergency haying is allowed until the end of August, with the stipulation that ranchers must leave about half of each field untouched for wildlife habitat. Additionally, the hay must be used for individual use and not be sold on the market.

Emergency grazing has been granted until the end of September. Proper management over the emergency land access it important, as cattle must be taken off the pastures if the average minimum forage height reaches 5 inches. This is to ensure that grasslands maintain their condition.

The biggest challenge for livestock producers during times of drought is having enough forages to feed their cattle. When rations become limited, ranchers often have to cull their herds in desperate times. Gaining limited access to government lands will help them maintain their current herd numbers.