USDA service to cut hay in severe drought counties
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri landowners can now apply to the USDA's National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to cut hay on up to 50 percent of the grass areas within their wetland easements, according to a press release from the USDA.
Landowners must reside within counties with drought conditions rated severe (D2) or extreme (D3) in the U.S. Drought Monitor Report.
NRCS' Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WRE) will purchase easements from landowners as long as they commit to maintaining areas as wetlands.
Up to 10,000 acres are eligible for haying and more may become available if drought conditions worsen.
State Conservationist J.R. Flores said cutting hay on WRE easements will be allowed until August 31, but all bales must be removed from those areas by September 15. Flores said grazing is not permitted in the areas covered by WRE easements because of damage that livestock access can cause to wetlands.
“Normally, cutting hay is prohibited within WRE easement areas, but during this critical time, Missouri livestock producers need access to all forage resources at their disposal,” Flores said.
Haying is not allowed in the portions of the easements which normally make up the pools of water intended to benefit migratory birds.
Landowners intent in cutting hay in their WRE easements must obtain approved Compatible Use Authorizations. Contact NRCS offices for more information.