Farmers and ranchers in the Dakotas affected by drought will be able to use Conservation Reserve Program acres for emergency haying or grazing after Monday's announcement by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Vilsack in his announcement says lands not yet classified as "under severe drought" that are "abnormally dry" can now be used for haying and grazing, which will increase available forage for livestock.
He says haying and grazing will only be allowed following the local primary nesting season, which has already passed in most areas.
Especially sensitive lands such as wetlands, stream buffers and rare habitats are still ineligible.
South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune took issue with that stipulation, saying that opening access to wetlands and stream buffers could mean up to an additional 445,000 acres in South Dakota.
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