Hoeven, Cramer Secure $250,000 in FY2018 Agriculture Appropriations Legislation to Prevent Blackbird Damage to Crops

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Kevin Cramer today announced that both the Senate and House Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bills make $250,000 available to help prevent blackbird damage to crops in the Northern Great Plains. Specifically, the funding will support the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) use of fixed-wing aircraft to reduce blackbird damages to crops in the Northern Great Plains. 

“Blackbirds can cause significant damage to crops like sunflowers, corn, wheat, oats and sorghum,” said Hoeven. “As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, I worked to secure funding for APHIS to use fixed-wing aircraft to repel these birds from ripening fields in North Dakota and the Northern Great Plains.”

“Thanks to great outreach by the North Dakota Sunflower growers during their spring fly-in, Senator Hoeven and I were able to reintroduce this tried and true method of wildlife nuisance management into the appropriations process,” said Cramer.  “Although just a start, hopefully through trial and error, evolving technologies, and continued communications between Congress, the Administration and most importantly our stakeholders, we can establish a permanent no landing zone for these troublesome creatures.”    

Executive Director of the National Sunflower Association, John Sandbakken, praised the funding provision. “Blackbird damage is a persistent problem faced annually by sunflower growers,” said Sandbakken.  “On average, the annual direct blackbird damage cost to North Dakota’s sunflower growers is almost $11 million.  We appreciate the help these funds will provide to try and help mitigate some of these losses.”

Both the Senate and House Appropriations Committee have approved their respective bills and they await approval by the full Senate and House of Representatives.