Tester, Baucus announce emergency use of CRP land for Powder River, Rosebud counties

(BIG SANDY, Mont.)  — Many ranchers in two fire-ravaged Montana counties will be able to use CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) land to move their herds out of the path of wildfire.  Starting today, Powder River and Rosebud County ranchers who have lost pastures or fences to fire are eligible to move livestock out of harm’s way to CRP land.

Producers impacted by the Ash Creek fire are eligible for relief under today’s announcement.  These ranchers should contact their county Farm Service Agency office for details.

Tester and Baucus toured the Ash Creek Fire on Saturday and heard from county officials and folks involved in production agriculture about the toll the fires are taking on grazing land and hay crops.

“This is a much-needed relief for the ranchers in Powder River and Rosebud counties,” Tester said.  “In times of wildfire, it is important that CRP land be available for cattle that are in danger. Folks should reach out to their FSA office as soon as possible, and I will keep pushing USDA to use every tool in the toolbox to help farmers and ranchers in eastern Montana.”

“Whether it’s donating hay, rescuing livestock or providing extra pasture land for a fellow rancher in need, we are hearing inspiring stories all across Montana of neighbors pitching in a helping hand.  Opening up CRP land will give these folks another important tool to work with as they work together to protect their livelihoods from devastating fires,” Baucus said. “It’s also an important reminder of just how badly we need to pass the Senate Farm Bill and make livestock disaster assistance permanent once and for all.”

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

The official designation from USDA is available online HERE.

Last month, the Senate passed a Farm Bill that included a provision inserted by Baucus to make the Livestock Disaster Assistance Program Permanent. The Senate provision is retroactive for 2012 and would provide assistance to ranchers affected by the current fires. The bill is now awaiting action in the House.