As a result of the severe drought in the state of Illinois, State Representative Adam Brown has filed an emergency resolution to release Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land filter strips for farmers to use to help feed their cattle. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already released a small portion of the land this year in response to the drought, but Brown says that’s not nearly enough considering the current conditions Illinois farmers are facing.
According to Brown, the drought is drying up fields, making it extremely difficult for farmers to feed their livestock and the CRP land released by the USDA needs to be significantly increased in order to help farmers and their cattle. He believes releasing filter strips would generate the support these farmers need in order to provide the massive amount of feed cattle need to survive.
Close to 50% of CRP has been released; this would put the mark at 65% and open access to thousands of farms that currently don't have CRP access. Also, 78% of cattle nationwide are in drought conditions, meaning Illinois must free up feed reserves to keep feed and food prices down.
Generally, only certain CRP practices will be able to be utilized for emergency haying and grazing. Filter strips are not currently included in CRP ground that can be used for emergency haying and grazing. Drought conditions often result in poor pastures and reduced forage yields, so adding this ground would provide livestock producers additional acres they could utilize for feeding their cattle. If the filter strip ground is not released, it could make it that much more difficult for farmers to obtain feed sources for their livestock.
Many downstate producers say their access to CRP land is limited and by opening filter strips they can keep their cattle healthy. If the filter strips cannot be used for grazing then they will face substantial losses to our livestock.