Hoeven Working to Ensure Ranchers Have Access to Drought Assistance

BISMARCK, N.D. - Senator John Hoeven today convened a roundtable with the directors of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and ranchers to outline options for producers facing drought across the state. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Hoeven is working to ensure ranchers have access to emergency measures to help them weather the drought and maintain their operations. 

“Our ag producers are facing a severe drought this summer, which continues to spread across the western half of the state,” Hoeven said. “We’re working with the USDA to ensure ranchers can access all options to help them get through this difficult time, and we appreciate the efforts of local groups in helping us make ranchers aware of the available assistance.” 

CRP Emergency Grazing and Haying 

Following a letter from Hoeven and the delegation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently opened Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for emergency grazing in counties experiencing drought conditions of D2 or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor. The agency subsequently provided greater flexibility for grazers and opened CRP lands in all 53 North Dakota counties.

Eligible CRP participants can use the acreage for grazing their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the land. There will be no reductions to CRP annual rental payments for acres grazed. CRP contract holders who hay their acreage are able to donate their hay to livestock producers or may sell their hay with a 25 percent reduction in their annual rental payment.

Additionally, Hoeven continues working to secure USDA approval for emergency haying of CRP acres in drought-stricken counties. The senator is pressing for haying approval this month to prevent the forage from losing its nutritional value. 

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. 

Farm Service Agency (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. The 26 designated counties are separated into two categories, including:

  • 15 counties designated as primary natural disaster areas – Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Divide, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Slope, Stark, Ward and Williams
  • 11 counties designated as contiguous disaster counties – Burke, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McHenry, McKenzie, Mountrail, Renville, Sheridan and Sioux

Ranchers in these counties have eight months from the date of the disaster designation to apply. The senator encourages all affected ranchers to work with their local FSA county office to access the emergency assistance programs.