SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the USDA has approved a measure of disaster relief for livestock farmers in 48 flood-ravaged Illinois counties. The relief allows farmers in counties that were designated as either primary or contiguous federal disaster areas due to the recent flooding to use acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for livestock grazing.
“I’d like to thank USDA for granting this assistance,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Livestock producers were paying high feed costs, even before farm fields were flooded along the Mississippi and Wabash rivers. Without the release of these acres, they may have faced a feed shortage.”
The CRP program pays farmers to take erodible cropland and environmentally-sensitive areas out of production. In return for the payment, farmers are required to plant grasses, trees or other suitable groundcover on the land to prevent soil erosion and improve water quality. Typically, eligible acres are enrolled in the program for 10 to 15 years. This is not, however, the first time it has been released for grazing or other purposes in response to an emergency.
In order for set-aside acreage to be released for grazing, landowners must obtain the permission of their county Farm Service Agency office, which administers the program on behalf of USDA. The rental payments for all CRP acreage opened to grazing will be reduced by 25 percent.
CRP land in 15 other states also has been approved for livestock grazing. The majority of the acreage is located in the Midwestern states that bore the brunt of the severe weather this spring, including Illinois.
The Illinois counties approved for relief are: Adams, Boone, Brown, Calhoun, Carroll, Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Gallatin, Greene, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jasper, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Madison, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Piatt, Pike, Richland, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stephenson, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, White, Whiteside, and Winnebago.