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Drought major concern for crop, livestock producers in 2021

Eloise Ogden/MDN Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, held a drought meeting at the North Central Research Extension Center, south of Minot, in July to get input from farmers and ranchers about the crisis they are facing. Shown are, from the left, Doug Goehring, North Dakota Department of Agriculture commissioner; Richard Flournoy, acting administrator of Risk Management Agency; Hoeven; and Zach Ducheneaux, Farm Service Agency administrator.

When livestock and crop producers met with Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, and high-ranking agriculture officials in Minot in early July 2021, they told their stories about the crisis due to the devastating drought.

“I’m 44 years old and I won’t harvest a wheat crop this year. It’s the first time I recall that happening on my farm,” said Tyler Stafslien, an agriculture producer from Makoti, about 50 miles southwest of Minot.

Other crop and livestock producers echoed similar concerns to Sen. John Hoeven, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, and Risk Management Agency Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy and Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux, the latter two both of Washington, D.C.

Dry conditions gripping North Dakota for much of the year continue to be a major concern for livestock and crop producers in North Dakota.

Some livestock owners found it necessary to sell their cattle because of the drought impact on pasture and water. Some were able to keep their cattle in pastures but had to haul water to them. Some had to get feed for their cattle.

Sue Sitter/PCT Auctioneer Mike Ostrem opens bidding on a cow-calf pair at the Rugby Livestock Auction June 28. The drought had a huge impact on the cattle industry, forcing some livestock producers in the state to sell some or part of their herds.

At the July meeting in Minot, Kyle Shively, field representative for Rugby Livestock Auction, said the livestock auction sold four times as many cows in June as it normally does.

“We’ve been going steady every week, mainly culled cattle and cow-calf pairs. Between May and June we sold 17,500 cows and I think we’ve just kind of touched the tip of it at this point,” he told the group meeting with Hoeven and ag officials.

Some of the crop producers at the meeting said they would be alright because they have crop insurance but it is a much more difficult situation for those with livestock.

Shively also explained some of the concern is the amount of cattle leaving this country that won’t be back for some time and this is going to hurt rural communities.

In September, Hoeven, along with Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, announced following a roundtable in Burlington a new program to provide assistance with feed transportation costs for livestock producers dealing with drought conditions.

“We’re combining LFP, the Livestock Forage Program, and ELAP (Emergency Livestock Assistance Program) to help our ranchers cover the cost to get feed to their livestock,” said Hoeven. “The key is, it is retroactive back to January 1. Up to 60% of that transportation cost is going to be reimbursed.”

Drought conditions continued to persist in North Dakota. In the July 20 assessment by the U.S. Drought Monitor, it was reported Ward County was considered roughly two-thirds extreme drought and the rest exceptional drought.

The Drought Monitor’s assessment of McHenry County, just east of Ward County, is that area is the epicenter of drought conditions in the state and the only county considered in the exceptional drought category. McLean, Sheridan and Pierce Counties had substantial areas of exceptional drought.

A recent Drought Monitor said an assessment of the past two months’ precipitation led to contraction of moderate drought in northeast North Dakota and severe drought in the central part of the state. The late fall and early rains helped but sloughs and waterholes still were low, expanding severe drought in other parts of central North Dakota.

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