Drought Prompts Temporary Lifting of Farmland Preservation, CREP Restrictions
July 26, 2012
Drought Prompts Temporary Lifting of Farmland Preservation, CREP Restrictions (1 page PDF)
MADISON – Some farmers in the 23 Wisconsin counties designated as drought disaster areas, and the 8 counties bordering them, may be released temporarily from complying with conservation standards. Farmers in four of those counties may also be permitted to hay and graze on lands pulled out of production for conservation.
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel said today that farmers participating in the Farmland Preservation program in those 31 counties can work with their county land conservation offices to harvest corn early for silage and remove other crop residues this year, to help ease drought-related feed shortages. In Dane, Green, Iowa and Lafayette counties, he is encouraging county conservation departments to work with farmers with acreage in CREP – Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program – to expedite requests to local Farm Service Agency offices to allow haying and grazing on that acreage.
The 31 counties are Adams, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Lafayette, Marquette, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waushara, Winnebago and Wood.
Farmland Preservation is a state program that provides tax credits to farmers who keep their land out of non-agricultural development and meet soil erosion and manure management standards. Ordinarily, removing crops and crop residues early would not be permitted, because it could leave land vulnerable to erosion. But the need to chop corn for silage rather than lose it entirely, and to provide feed for livestock, prompted Brancel to lift the restriction temporarily.
In a letter to county conservationists, Brancel asked county conservationists in the 31 counties to:
Allow farmers in the Farmland Preservation Program to harvest corn early for silage and to remove other crop residues for use as livestock feed.
Encourage farmers to plant temporary cover crops to replace the corn and crop residues and prevent erosion. If successful, those crops could provide forage for livestock in the fall.
Work with farmers to plant winter crops, such as wheat, on the harvested acreage. Again, this would prevent erosion on lands that would otherwise be left bare and could provide feed or a crop for sale early in the next growing season.
Encourage farmers to consult local University of Wisconsin-Extension agents or agronomists about the suitability of the early-harvest corn silage and other crop residues for feed, since there could be toxicity or nutrition concerns.
Farmers must contact their county land conservation offices before taking corn or crop residues off lands in Farmland Preservation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that lands in CRP, or Conservation Reserve Program, could be hayed or grazed. That announcement also applies to some very limited CREP acreage in Dane, Green, Iowa and Lafayette counties. Farmers in those counties who have land in CREP must contact their county conservationists and their local USDA Farm Service Agency offices before they may hay or graze that acreage. In addition, landowners with CREP perpetual easements will also need to get written authorization from DATCP prior to performing these activities.
You can find more information about drought-related topics at http://datcp.wi.gov/Farms/Drought_2012.