Program will help farmers’ pastures

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2000

Farmers suffering from drought-damaged pastureland can now get federal monies for reseeding efforts.

Monday, April 03, 2000

Farmers suffering from drought-damaged pastureland can now get federal monies for reseeding efforts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the Gallia/Lawrence Farm Service Agency to offer the Pasture Recovery Program to local farmers, FSA director Jim Herrell said.

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"We estimate 6,000 to 8,000 acres of pastureland in Lawrence County was damaged by last year’s drought," Herrell said.

That damage not only affects crop and livestock income but the entire future of farms, so the recovery program was established to give farmers a fighting chance, he said.

To qualify for assistance, livestock owners must re-establish the permanent vegetative forage crop on pastureland. Pastureland re-established under the program cannot be used for hay production for five years.

Signup for the program began March 20 and will last until the April 14 deadline.

"We cannot stress enough that farmers must apply first, prior to doing the work, and before the deadline," Herrell said.

Reseeding conducted before filing an application for assistance will not be eligible for payment, USDA officials said.

Farmers can apply with the Gallia/Lawrence FSA office, 111 Jackson Pike, Room 1571, Gallipolis. Call the office at 1-740-446-8687 for information and applications.

Sharp’s Creek farmer Steve Lambert said he is applying because any assistance now will combat drought problems later.

"Our farms and hillsides in this part of the state are in poor shape," Lambert said. "We need to get an extra jump on the grass because they think we will have a drought again this summer."

The recovery program funding will help all farmers, but especially those who depend on it for a living, Lambert said.

The USDA has established two practices in the program:

– Reseeding with seedbed preparation, plow and discing for example, at a $50 per acre cost-share level.

– Reseeding without seedbed preparation, no-till, at a $45 per acre cost-share level.

Most work in Lawrence County likely will be no-till work because the ground is sometimes not easily worked by tractor, like on hillsides, Herrell said.

The maximum payment to an individual will be $2,500. About $40 million was allocated to the program nationwide.

If requests total more than $40 million, the amount of money per individual will likely decrease, the USDA said.

All practices must be completed by Sept. 30, but cannot start until an application is filed, Herrell said.