Amicus Filed for CRP Critical Feed Lawsuit

US – The American Farm Bureau Federation filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief in response to the National Wildlife Federation’s lawsuit regarding the Agriculture Department’s Critical Feed Use program on certain Conservation Reserve Program land.
calendar icon 17 July 2008
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At the end of May, USDA announced the new program, under which eligible farmers and ranchers could receive permission for “special, one-time” hay and forage use of certain CRP acreage after the primary nesting season ends for grass-nesting birds. The Wildlife Federation’s lawsuit claims USDA failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act in authorizing the critical feed use program.

"Farm Bureau is extremely concerned about the severe economic hardship this injunction imposes on farmers and ranchers."
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman

Last week at the behest of the NWF and several state wildlife federations, a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order immediately halting farmers and ranchers from haying and grazing on CRP land for critical feed use until the court considers the issue at a hearing scheduled for July 17.

“Farm Bureau is extremely concerned about the severe economic hardship this injunction imposes on farmers and ranchers,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

“More than 4,000 livestock producers relied on USDA’s announcement about the new program and have already begun using their precious financial resources to prepare the land for haying and grazing. It’s important for the court to hear from farmers and ranchers about the harmful effects of this injunction, both since July 8 when the injunction was issued and going forward,” said Stallman.

The brief, which was filed along with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council, summarizes the stories of more than 25 farmers and ranchers who have moved cattle, dug wells, erected fences and hired labor to utilize the temporary grazing and haying opportunities provided by the critical feed use program.

Describing the program as “a short term step that was carefully tailored to protect the environment and producers,” Stallman noted it would provide some relief for livestock producers by reducing record-high feed costs.

According to USDA estimates, the initiative will generate around 18 million tons of hay, worth approximately $1.2 billion. The critical feed use initiative is not related to emergency use of CRP land.

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