Blunt pushes USDA to release acreage for feedstock to help Missouri farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must help Missouri livestock producers, who currently suffer declining farm incomes resulting from record low yields and a severe drought that has impacted their ability to obtain feedstock, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) wrote in a July 26 letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Specifically, the USDA should approve requests to release emergency Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage for haying and grazing to provide immediate access to feedstock for Missouri livestock producers, Sen. Blunt wrote in the letter that was also signed by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Additionally, USDA should approve the Missouri Farm Service Agency’s request for special authority to release CRP acreage covered by additional conservation practices for haying and grazing, the lawmakers wrote.

“We understand that these acres are not usually considered under CRP Emergency Release, but Missouri farmers are desperate for relief,” the senators wrote, noting that Missouri farmers and ranchers are facing the worst drought conditions since 2012. “While we recognize the conservation value these lands hold, we believe that under the guidance of USDA …, farmers can utilize these lands while preserving the integrity and intent of the CRP program.”

The lawmakers concluded their letter to Secretary Perdue by pointing out that “Missouri farm families need swift answers, not bureaucratic delay and red tape.”

Sens. Blunt and McCaskill said they hope that “USDA’s timely assistance will get Missouri’s agriculture community back on its feet.”