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Farmers can request permission to hay, graze conservation lands

Published 5:41pm Saturday, August 3, 2013

Because some Minnesota livestock producers have experienced difficulty with widespread winter kill of alfalfa and persistent wet conditions, the Board of Water and Soil Resources is reminding landowners they have options within their Reinvest in Minnesota contracts to address these issues.

Per BWSR policy, landowners may request permission to hay or graze easement lands for conservation management purposes, provided those activities are documented in a management plan signed by the easement holder, the local soil and water conservation district and BWSR.

“According to state statute, we are not able to issue a blanket authorization to hay and graze conservation lands due to winter kill or persistent wet conditions,” said Sarah Strommen, BWSR Assistant Director. “However, we want to be responsive to landowners’ needs and we believe management plans allow for some flexibility to address the weather conditions we’ve experienced in 2013 while achieving conservation goals.”

The Board passed a resolution at its June meeting to inform and educate easement holders and local SWCD staff on provisions for vegetative management, following a request by Gov. Mark Dayton that the United States Department of Agriculture provide assistance to Minnesota livestock producers.

Since then, the USDA has declared 19 counties in Minnesota open to emergency haying and grazing. To initiate emergency haying and grazing, producers must contact their local Farm Service Agency office to apply before any haying or grazing begins.

For state information, interested landowners should contact local soil and water conservation district office for specific policies and information.

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