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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN) this week in introducing the CRP Flexibility Act, bipartisan legislation to improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to allow emergency haying of eligible Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres prior to August 1 in response to drought and other weather-related disaster events.

“As North Dakota producers have worked to overcome this year’s drought, it has become clear one step Congress can take to ensure they are able to receive assistance is to allow emergency haying of eligible Conservation Reserve Program acres prior to August 1,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bipartisan bill would allow the Department of Agriculture to designate those acres for emergency haying under certain circumstances, which would provide long-term clarity for how they can work to address the emergency needs of the agricultural community in our region and across the country.”

Today’s legislation follows a letter sent by the North Dakota congressional delegation to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture urging to assist North Dakota producers suffering from drought conditions by having USDA allow emergency haying and grazing of CRP acres in North Dakota before August 1. While eligible CRP acres in every North Dakota county are currently eligible to be grazed at limited capacity, they are not eligible to be hayed until after the primary nesting season, which ends August 1 in South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The CRP Flexibility Act would address this by allowing emergency haying on eligible CRP acres before August 1 when certain conditions are met and in consultation with the state technical committee.

Senator Cramer launched a webpage to provide North Dakotans affected by the drought with information on what resources are available to them. Visit the webpage here.

Senators Cramer, Thune, and Smith are joined on the bill by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and John Hoeven (R-ND). Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Angie Craig (D-MN) are leading companion legislation in the House with Representatives Tom Emmer (R-MN), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Pete Stauber (R-MN), and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) joining as original cosponsors.