Hoeven: FSA to Provide Additional Staff to Prevent Backlogs for Producers Facing Drought

Senator Secured Provision in FY18 Ag Funding Legislation Directing Additional Staff to Drought Stricken Areas

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is sending additional staff to prevent service backlogs for agriculture producers facing severe drought conditions. Additional staff will be sent to the following FSA offices: McHenry, Mountrail, Bowman, Golden Valley, Hettinger and Stark counties.

Today’s announcement follows Hoeven’s efforts this week to secure additional support for farmers and ranchers affected by drought in the Fiscal Year 2018 agriculture funding legislation. Among other things, the senator secured a provision to allocate additional staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to drought stricken areas.

“Farmers and ranchers need certainty that they will be able to access the emergency assistance we have worked to provide,” said Hoeven. “The additional staff for FSA county offices is an important step to prevent backlogs and ensure agriculture producers can access these services in a timely manner.” 

Hoeven continues working to ensure that programs at USDA work well for farmers and ranchers, helping them weather the drought and maintain their operations. This includes:

CRP Emergency Grazing and Haying

Just yesterday, USDA opened additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for emergency haying and grazing, following Hoeven’s efforts to do the same through the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee. 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. 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.