FAQ: Iowa livestock producers can hay or graze CRP land statewide in Iowa from August 2 to September 30, 2012. What are the rules? Do I need to get permission from Farm Service Agency? I'm interested in grazing Wetland Reserve Program acres. I don't have any land in the CRP program. Plus, the wetland acres have a better forage crop this year than the CRP acres which are more dried out. Someone told me I have to check with NRCS, not FSA, regarding Wetland Reserve Program acres.
Answer: Yes, grazing and haying of wetland easement acres and Conservation Reserve Program acres began August 2 in Iowa and it ends September 30, 2012. Haying activities must be completed by August 31, 2012. All livestock and hay must be removed by September 30, 2012.
Iowa livestock producers may begin haying and grazing Wetland Reserve Program, Emergency Wetland Reserve Program, and Emergency Watershed Protection Program/Floodplain Easement acres in drought-affected areas beginning August 2, 2012. However, they must first complete a Compatible Use Authorization form at their local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service office. That's the word from Jon Hubbert, acting state conservationist for NRCS in Des Moines.
"The compatible use authorization process allows flexibility to address short-term resource conditions, like the drought, while promoting the health of the land and the viability of the overall farming operation," says Hubbert. "This opportunity will hopefully provide much-needed relief to Iowa livestock producers."
Rules and restrictions you must follow for emergency haying and grazing
Grazed wetland easement acres must have an NRCS-approved grazing plan. The compatible use authorization includes additional restrictions to help protect wildlife benefits and wetland functions. Some of these restrictions include:
- Grazing and haying is not allowed in areas where woody vegetation is maintained or being established.
- Grazing and haying are not allowed on the same acres in the same year.
- Haying is not allowed after Sept. 1.
- Grazing is not allowed after Sept. 30.
- Minimum stubble height is 8 inches.
- Grazing is prohibited within 30 feet of water bodies and streams and on sites seeded less than three years ago.
- Hay bales must be removed by Sept. 15.
- Grazing and haying is prohibited in known habitats of certain threatened and endangered species.
A complete list of restrictions can be found in the compatible use authorization form. For more information contact your local NRCS office.
WRP is a voluntary conservation easement program that provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers to restore and protect valuable wetland resources on their property. In Iowa, there are 80,000 acres enrolled in WRP through 700 easements.