Understanding Haying and Grazing in CRP

Haying and grazing can be performed under CRP in certain situations where it either improves the quality and performance of the land or provides emergency relief to livestock. While it can be beneficial for CRP contract holders to utilize haying and/or grazing on their CRP acres, they need to be authorized to do so, and they must follow the rules. 

There are two types of haying and grazing allowed in CRP: emergency and managed. Each comes with their own requirements and restrictions. 

Emergency Haying and Grazing

This past month, the USDA announced changes regarding emergency haying and grazing of CRP acresPreviously, contract holders needed to first make an emergency haying and grazing request at the county level. From there, it needed to be approved by both state and federal levels. 

The new process is meant to streamline authorization, allowing FSA to automatically institute emergency haying and grazing approval when certain drought conditions occur. Drought severity will be determined by the US Drought Monitor. If you are eligible, you will still need to submit a request to FSA and obtain a modified conservation plan from the NRCS. 

Haying is authorized for up to 60 days, while grazing is authorized for 90 days. Both must be stopped 30 days before the estimated first freeze date. Emergency haying and grazing does not affect annual rental payments. 

Further specifics and requirements for eligibility can vary depending on your location, the Conservation Practice you are enrolled in, and the degree to which drought has affected your operations. For full details, you should speak to your local FSA office. 

Managed Haying and Grazing 

Certain practices under CRP are eligible for managed haying and grazing. Farmers and landowners can either implement haying and/or grazing during the creation of their initial Conservation Plan of Operations (CPO), or they can request an update to their existing plan to include it. Land must be fully established for at least 12 months before any haying or grazing can take place, and typically, it cannot be done during primary nesting season. 

The specifics of how much and how often you can hay and/or graze can vary between regions. Haying and grazing is often implemented as part of mid contract management (MCM) 

Should I Implement Haying and Grazing into My CRP? 

There can be a number of benefits to haying and/or grazing your CRP. In addition to maintaining and improving the establishment of native vegetation, it can provide quality nourishment for livestock. Alternatively, hay may be gathered and sold. If you’re wanting to include haying and grazing in your CRP plan, you should be strategic in the CP you enroll in, as well as the type of CRP seed you plant.  

Native warm season grasses are generally preferred for grazingCool season grasses can expose grazing livestock to endophyte, resulting in feet and leg issues, weight loss (or gain) digestive issues, lower reproduction, and more. Warm season grasses such as switchgrass and Indiangrass are immune to bacteria and fungi like endophyte, making them great for grazing. 

Switchgrass can also be utilized as a sustainable, cost-saving biofuel. 

Whether you choose to graze or hay your CRP, it’s important that you follow the rules and restrictions set by FSA. We can help with that. At FDCE, we have experience establishing 350,000 acres of CRP across the US. Our full-service CRP solutions take care of the entire establishment process, from selecting and buying CRP seed mixes to submitting the final reports to FSA for cost-share reimbursement. 

With a 97% success rate, you can trust in FDCE for establishing your CRP project. Whether you’re ready to enroll in CRP, or you’d like a better understanding in your haying and grazing options, we’re here for you. Contact us today!