The USDA announced a one-time change on Thursday to its rules on harvesting forage and grazing livestock on prevented-planting cropland. The move was meant to assure there will be enough livestock feed this year, particularly for dairy cattle.
Big bluestem grass — one of the most important forage grasses in the Midwest for cattle — is predicted to drop as much as 60 percent drop in stature and growth over the next 75 years due to climate change, according to a study published in the journal Global Change Biology.
Faced with prolonged and intensifying drought in the northern Plains, USDA opened a still-larger portion of the Conservation Reserve, ordinarily off-limits to farm work, to emergency haying and grazing. In its fourth announcement of permission for landowners to use the idled land for livestock forage, the USDA said haying and grazing would be permitted on wetlands and on buffer strips, often used to protect waterways from farm runoff, that are enrolled in the reserve.
One of the largest cullings in a decade is planned for the bison herd at Yellowstone National Park, says Reuters. Plans call for animals that stray outside the park boundaries to be targets for hunters and for the animals to be herded to tribal land for slaughter.