Hoeven: DOT Provides Regulatory Relief for Ranchers & Motor Carriers to Help Move Hay, Livestock During Drought

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a Regional Declaration of Emergency and waived regulations in North Dakota to allow agriculture producers and motor carriers to more easily transport hay, feed, supplies and livestock in response to drought. Hoeven worked with DOT to secure the waiver for North Dakota.

“Emergency support services are needed for our ranchers throughout much of North Dakota,” said Hoeven. “We cannot afford delays on the delivery of relief during such a severe disaster. By easing the limits on transporting hay, feed and livestock, we are helping ensure our ag producers can access the goods and services they need to respond to this drought.”

Hoeven continues working as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and as a member of the Agriculture Committee to secure support for farmers and ranchers to help them weather the drought and maintain their operations. This includes:

CRP Emergency Grazing and Haying

Last week, USDA opened additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for emergency haying and grazing, following Hoeven’s efforts to do the same through agriculture appropriations. This builds on USDA’s approval of the senator’s request to allow emergency haying of CRP acres beginning July 16, as well as the delegation letter led by Hoeven that resulted in the opening of emergency grazing.

NRCS Wetland Restoration Acres Haying and Grazing

Hoeven also helped secure Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) acres for haying and grazing. Ranchers should visit their county NRCS office to submit paperwork to access these acres, which are lands that farmers have enrolled in 30-year easements with NRCS under the Wetland Restoration Easement program.

Livestock Forage Disaster Program

Hoeven recently announced that ranchers in counties experiencing drought in D3 or higher categories are immediately eligible for payments under the Livestock Forage Disaster program. For counties under D2 intensity, eligibility begins after eight consecutive weeks of drought. County information for North Dakota can be found here at the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Ensuring Adequate Loss Adjusters

Hoeven secured a commitment from the head of the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to ensure there are loss adjustors to assess drought damage in North Dakota. The senator urged Heather Manzano, Acting RMA Administrator, to hold insurance companies to their contracts and ensure they provide adequate personnel to address claims in a timely fashion, which the she committed to do. This will help prevent delays for producers facing drought and other challenges.

FSA Emergency Assistance

The USDA has since designated counties in the state as natural disaster areas due to the drought, making additional assistance available for farm and ranch operators. This includes emergency loans through FSA. FSA has also committed additional staff and resources to prevent service delays in the areas facing severe drought, a response to similar provisions Hoeven included in the Fiscal Year 2018 funding legislation. Ranchers in affected counties have eight months from the date of the disaster designation to apply. 

In addition, USDA has provided producers with FSA loans a 12-month exemption from a requirement that they have physical control of their livestock. This exemption will allow ranchers to weather the drought by moving their livestock to feedlots or other states where they have grass before taking back physical control at a later date. 

For details regarding the FMCSA declaration and waiver, click here.