The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have joined forces to help Minnesota livestock farmers in need of additional forage to feed their herds. Many livestock owners were unable to send animals for processing due to COVID-19-related disruptions at meat slaughtering facilities, and as a result some farmers have larger herds and are running out of feed. These changes, along with drought conditions in parts of the state, are putting additional pressure on an already low statewide forage stockpile.
The agencies are working to streamline the process of approving haying and grazing on state-owned land. Livestock producers in need of additional forage are encouraged to email their DNR Area Wildlife Manager to discuss options in their area. Area Wildlife Managers’ contact information can be found on the Conservation Grazing Map on the MDA website.
Most public land does not have adequate fencing for cattle so grazing cooperators should expect to install and remove temporary fencing before and after the grazing period. The cooperator should also need to check to make sure any available water supply from ponds or streams is adequate for livestock.
Livestock farmers can expect to pay market value for hay and grazing done on public land. Deductions will be made for work done such as putting up and removing fence, hauling water, and work to cut, bale, and move hay.
Margaret Hart, MDA Communications