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UPDATE: USDA Opens Conservation Land for Haying, Grazing

By: Rachelle Baillon Email
By: Rachelle Baillon Email

UPDATED Tuesday, July 24, 2012 --- 11:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin farmers will be allowed to cut hay and graze cattle on land in conservation programs under a loosening of restrictions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday calls the USDA move "another step toward relief and recovery for farmers here in Wisconsin and across the Midwest."

Typically, the land must be set aside for wildlife habitat and to avoid erosion, but it may be used to feed livestock in emergencies. Now, farmers whose land is listed as "abnormally dry" can take part.

Walker encourages farmers to contact their local Farm Service Agency for more information.

The USDA move comes after Walker on Monday allowed for haying and cattle grazing on about 11,500 acres of state-owned land.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, July 24, 2012 --- 6:25 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- As the drought continues, Wisconsin's corn crop remains in sad shape.

In its weekly crop progress report for Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that 43 percent of the state's corn crop is in very poor or poor condition, with just 31 percent rated as good to excellent. Hay yields are coming up short due to a lack of moisture, plus insects.

Only 23 percent of the state's soil has adequate moisture, with 46 percent of the state very short. Ninety-nine percent of the soil in south-central Wisconsin is rated short or very short.

Forty-five percent of the corn in the 18 states that planted the most corn acreage last year is in very poor to poor condition as the drought continues across most of the Midwest.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, July 23, 2012 --- 3:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Farmers suffering under an ongoing drought will be allowed to harvest hay and graze cattle on about 11,500 acres of state-owned land.

Gov. Scott Walker made the announcement Monday.

The special harvest ends Aug. 10 for prairie grasses and Aug. 30 for cool season grasses. Only one cutting of hay will be allowed.

Farmers will have to sign an agreement saying the hay being taken from state property will be used for livestock and not sold.

More information is available at 1-888-936-7463 or on the Department of Natural Resources website at dnr.wi.gov. Additional drought-related information is on a special website www.ready.wi.gov.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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MONDAY, July 23, 2012--2:40p.m.

JANESVILLE--Plenty of farmers are concerned about their crops--and what the future holds for them. Some spent the day talking with experts in Janesville about ways to proceed in this drought.

One speaker said that this type of weather causes a lot of things to happen in the marketplace--and said he's there to help farmers work through those issues. We're told that includes things like managing the recent price movements, how to handle contracts they're already committed to--as well as for livestock producers, as they look at having to buy feed for their animals and the decisions that go along with that.

They're also reminding farmers to take some pests seriously.
"We still have a good yield potential out there and there are some pests that we don't normally see, such as the spider mites that are out there and can severely impact a soybean field," said Shawn Conley, a soybean and small grain specialist at U-W Madison. "So growers should be out there, should be scouting. They should take this pest serious, it is one of the pests that can truly take a soybean field to zero yield."

Conley said there is still a considerable amount of revenue to protect in the field. He said growers should be paying attention to the spider mite and spraying for it--to save whatever crop yield they do have.
Conley said the dry conditions are what has allowed the spider mite population to explode, without the normal checks on its growth.


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