At Tester’s request, Ag Secretary approves emergency status in 5 Montana counties

Decision will allow CRP land to be used for emergency grazing

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Ranchers and farmers in five drought-stricken Montana counties will be able to use their CRP land for emergency haying and grazing, thanks to a high-level phone call from Senator Jon Tester.

Tester last night spoke with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer about the ongoing drought across Montana’s Hi-Line.  In response to the call, Schafer has approved emergency haying and grazing on CRP land in Richland, Blaine, Dawson, Glacier and Phillips Counties.

While traveling the Hi-Line earlier this month, Tester heard firsthand from many Montanans about the need for emergency haying and grazing on CRP land.  He vowed to follow up when he returned to the Senate.

“Sometimes it just takes a phone call to the top to ask, ‘What’s going on here?’” Tester said.  “This is a common sense result that comes from putting partisanship aside and working together. We have an emergency drought situation on ranches and farms across Montana, and now folks need all their land to keep their livestock—and their livelihoods—on track.”

Tester added he will urge Schafer to make additional exceptions for other drought-stricken Montana counties.

Senator Max Baucus has also been active in encouraging emergency use of CRP land.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, and Jon and I are committed to making sure we’re doing what’s right our farmers and ranchers,” Baucus said. “Everyday that passes this drought becomes more and more of a threat to our producers. This is the right thing to do and I’m glad Secretary Schafer has made this decision.”

CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) land is land that ranchers and farmers set aside to restore wildlife and water habitat, in exchange for compensation from the federal government.