WARRENSBURG — Farmer Chase Brown wants to keep the cattle that are raised in a pasture on Brown and Brown Farms near Warrensburg.
However, Brown is among the livestock producers in Illinois who fear they might soon be faced with a difficult choice.
“It has become a financial issue more than anything,” Brown said. “The price of everything is going up. We might have to send cows to town and be picky on which ones stay. We have to find ways to cut down on hay consumption.”
With the help of state Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur, a group of area farmers Friday called on the federal government to provide them more of a lifeline to feed their cattle than they have thus far received. Adam Brown wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release more acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program for emergency haying and grazing purposes.
“We’re struggling to scrape by,” Adam Brown said. “It’s a big concern, not just for this summer and fall but all through the winter into next year. Relief can’t come soon enough.”
The USDA Farm Service Agency has released a portion of land included in the reserve program for emergency haying and grazing. It announced plans Thursday to add eight program practices.
“Many of these additional acres have wetland-related characteristics and are likely to contain better quality hay and forage than on other CRP acres,” said Scherrie Giamanco, the state’s Farm Service Agency executive director.
Emergency haying will be available through Aug. 31 and grazing allowed through Sept. 30. Farmers should work with their local Farm Service office on any changes they make to their reserve program-related plans. Federal officials will continue to monitor reserve areas to ensure haying and grazing are done under strict compliance rules to minimize the impact on sensitive specialty practices.
But Adam Brown wants land near waterways referred to as filter strips included in the release.
“We want the federal government to step out of our way so farmers can feed their livestock,” Adam Brown said. “If they run cattle out of Illinois, it’s going to lead to job loss and higher food prices along with less fresh food that is available.”
Faced with financial pressures to feed and hydrate their animals, livestock producers are thinking about the need to downsize, said Eric Johnson, Illinois Beef Association communications director.
“It’s a tough decision we don’t want to have to make,” Johnson said. “We need help from everybody. It’s getting down to crunch time.”
Emmett Sefton, who farms near Dalton City, has been in the cattle business about 50 years. He’s watched as conditions on his farm have dried up.
“I do not want to get rid of them,” Sefton said. “They’ve been good to me.”