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Montana News

USDA Accepting Applications For Emergency Grazing Program

Herd of black angus cattle.

The USDA opened swathes of conservation easements in Montana for emergency haying and grazing. It’s a sign of relief for farmers and ranchers during drought conditions. The department started accepting applications to access Conservation Reserve Program lands in the state earlier this week.

Executive Vice President of Montana Stockgrowers Association Jay Bodner says the additional acres for haying and grazing could be a big boost for farmers and ranchers.

“And could be the difference between people having to either liquidate herds or reduce herds to make sure that they can stay in business.”

This week’s announcement allows 2,000 farms across Montana to make use of the haying and grazing program on nearly 800,000 acres of land. Easements were ineligible for emergency haying and grazing until now due to nesting season, which ended Thursday.

All but five counties in Montana have surpassed drought triggers that allow producers to apply for access to the easements. Lake, Teton, Pondera, Toole and Liberty counties are listed as experiencing abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions while the rest of the state is experiencing extreme to severe drought .