Conservation land in flood zone opened to grazing
Livestock grazing will be allowed on thousands of acres of Midwest land that had been set aside for conservation, Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schaeffer announced this week. Under the federal Conservation Reserve Program, landowners are paid to let their acreage just chill out and be wildlife habitat. But after the region’s recent spate of flooding, Schaeffer gave in to the requests of several state and federal officials to allow grazing on CRP land in counties designated as presidential disaster areas. “Flood waters inundated thousands of acres that cannot be salvaged for production this growing season,” explains Schaeffer, “and it happened at a time of record crop, food, and fuel prices.” Advocates of the exemption hope to convince Schaeffer to also allow haying on no-longer-really-conservation-reserved land.