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USDA lifts program’s haying restrictions due to drought

A restriction in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program has been lifted due to this summer’s...
A restriction in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program has been lifted due to this summer’s drought, allowing landowners to cut have and allow animals to graze on land within the program.(WAGM)
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) -

Officials with the USDA hope relaxing certain restrictions in the Conservation Reserve Program will help provided much-needed hay to some County farms.

The USDA program is a 10-to-15 year program that takes highly-erodible land out of production. The contract owner agrees to keep the land in grass cover for the life of the contract. In return, they receive an annual payment from USDA. A mowing schedule is followed, but haying and grazing is not allowed. Dave Lavway, Executive Director of USDA Maine’s Farm Service Agency, says due to this summer’s drought, haying and grazing restrictions have been lifted in The County.

“They’re at what they call a D-2 drought designation right now and have been for six weeks, maybe now seven. We have opened up about 6,000 acres of conservation reserve land up there for haying and grazing,” says Dave Lavway.

It’s up to the landowner /contract owner to initiate the process. So far this year, Lavway says they’ve had several landowners in the St. John Valley and at least one in Presque Isle put in a request. For more information, contact any of the three USDA offices - Fort Kent, Presque Isle or Houlton.

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