Gov. Mark Dayton has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow emergency haying and grazing on lands enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).
Such action, if approved and implemented soon, likely would impact production of grassland-nesting birds, including pheasants and waterfowl. If haying and grazing was done later in the summer, the impacts to wildlife likely would be less.
Dayton says the action is needed because of widespread winter kill of alfalfa and persistent wet conditions have prevented many farmers from planting.
"This situation compounds a serious shortage of forage due to severe drought conditions in Minnesota last year,'' he wrote in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These events have contributed to record high forage prices and a lack of availability.
Dayton also said that the persistent wet weather has resulted in many acres of unplanted crop land, and he asked Vilsack for cost-share funding for farmers to establish cover crops to grow additional forage for feed and to protect soil.
The governor also asked Vilsack to waive the Nov. 1 deadline that prohibits haying or grazing of cover crops under the federal crop insurance program.