Hoeven, Heitkamp and Cramer: Release CRP Grazing Lands to Help North Dakota Ranchers Facing Drought Conditions

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer today pressed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide assistance to North Dakota ranchers facing early season drought conditions by allowing emergency haying of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.

In a letter to the USDA Secretary, the delegation made the case for releasing the CRP acres citing early drought conditions in central and western North Dakota. Although the state received some rain last week, drought continues in areas of the state. Currently, the Western half of North Dakota is experiencing an early season drought, having received less than 40 percent of normal rainfall thus far in June. The central region of North Dakota, from the South Dakota border to the northern tier of counties, is listed in the “Severe Drought” category of the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Over half of North Dakota’s pasture and rangeland is listed as being in “Poor to Very Poor” condition in the latest USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin.

“In North Dakota, the effects of this abnormally dry weather on pastures and hay crops have been devastating. Media accounts of herd liquidation at sales barns are common. Many North Dakota ranchers are being faced with having to decide whether to sell valuable assets of their livestock operations. The resulting downsizing of herds in North Dakota poses a long-term threat to the viability of the industry in our state especially given that a herd cannot be built overnight,” the delegation wrote. “That is why we urge you to allow emergency haying of CRP acres within the state of North Dakota.”

The full text of the delegation’s letter is available here.