USDA Opened Nearly 3 Million Acres

The US Department of Agriculture opened up nearly 3 million acres of Conservation Reserve land to farmers and ranchers this summer, another sign of how devastating the recent drought was.

For the past several months, farmers across the country have struggled with severe to extreme weather conditions. From the Pacific to the Corn Belt, farmers experienced punishing temperatures and a devastating lack of rain. With more than 1,000 counties declared disaster areas, many government resources were stretched to the breaking point.

Ranchers in particular found themselves in a difficult situation. With ethanol demand and the damage done to the grain supply boosting feed prices, many ranchers found it increasingly difficult to feed their herds. Ranchers also could rely on little support from the federal government due to the current limitations of the crop insurance program.

In response to the weather, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack authorized the opening of 2.8 million acres of Conservation Reserve land to farmers and ranchers for emergency haying and grazing. In addition to actions taken during the height of the drought, Vilsack recently announced that the USDA was committed to funding water research projects exploring ways to increase irrigation potential in ponds and lakes.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer