Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue authorized the release of Conservation Reserve Program land in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, for emergency haying. The announcement comes after agriculture groups and state legislators made urgent requests to the agency to address the severe drought conditions in the Upper Great Plains region. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the conditions are forcing many farmers and ranchers across the drought-scorched region to make tough decisions about downsizing their herd or even keeping their farms. “Given that they’re also dealing with a severely depressed farm economy, the secretary’s action will go a long way toward alleviating some of the concerns currently facing farmers and ranchers,” Johnson said. The U.S. Cattleman’s Association says the announcement will help provide cattle operations with the tools they need to take care of livestock through an especially difficult time.