ROUNDS: Drought latest threat to ag industry

ROUNDS: Drought latest threat to ag industry.
Ranchers are struggling to feed their livestock and farmers are concerned about their crops.
The drought underscores the importance of the farm bill, the primary ag and food policy legislation that directs U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and is generally up for reauthorization every five years.
Those discussions include the importance of safety-net programs such as crop insurance and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which are designed to help farmers and ranchers during adverse times.
I recently joined Sen. John Thune in urging USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide timely assistance to the South Dakota counties facing extreme drought conditions.
In our letter, we asked him to be ready to provide expedited assistance to counties that will likely soon be in extreme drought conditions and eligible for assistance from the Livestock Forage Program (LFP).
We also requested that CRP acres be made available for emergency haying and grazing as soon as possible due to the substantial loss of grazing and forage for feed.
We also asked USDA to open up CRP acres for haying and grazing no later than July 15, which is several weeks earlier than normal.
“Timely assistance is needed in order to preserve foundation grazing livestock herds in the drought-stricken areas of our state from further downsizing due to lack of feed and forage,” we wrote.
In South Dakota, our farmers and ranchers are not immune to challenging conditions.

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