Senators, USDA leader Inspect Flood Damaged Farmland

Conrad, Hoeven and Under Secretary Scuse Meet with ND Producers

Minot  – Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven were joined today by Michael Scuse, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, to inspect farmland damaged by this spring's heavy rainfall and flood conditions. 

The officials visited the farm of Jon and Eleanor Erickson in Minot and, after inspecting weather related crop damage, spoke with area producers about the numerous disaster assistance programs available to help them recover.

"We just viewed some examples of the damage sustained on farms all across North Dakota," Senator Conrad said. "Our state was hit hard this year. We will shatter the record for prevented planted acreage due to adverse weather.  Our farmers are going to need some help.  I am asking Under Secretary Scuse and Secretary Vilsack to be as flexible as possible to ensure USDA's ag disaster programs operate as effectively as possible for our producers."   

The unprecedented flooding that wreaked havoc on much of North Dakota left millions of acres unplanted. According to a preliminary analysis performed by North Dakota State University’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics, the direct financial impact to North Dakota’s farmers of prevented planted acres in 2011 is estimated at $1.1 billion. Many producers will also suffer weather-related losses on land that was planted.  Estimates show North Dakota will receive approximately $1 billion in combined prevented planting and crop insurance payments for this crop year plus $100 million in disaster assistance for livestock and crop losses.

“We appreciate Under Secretary Scuse coming to North Dakota to see first-hand the severe flood damage that has impacted our farmers and ranchers,” Hoeven said. “The USDA needs to use all of the flexibility it can to help with programs like prevented plant and crop insurance, as well as allowing emergency haying and grazing and the planting of cover crops to help our farmers minimize their losses.”

As Acting Under Secretary, Scuse oversees the Farm Service Agency, which distributes farm subsidies, and the Risk Management Agency, which oversees crop insurance.  

Senator Conrad, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, invited Under Secretary Scuse to North Dakota. Senator Hoeven is also a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

Senator Conrad was the architect of the 2008 Farm Bill’s disaster assistance program, which has provided thousands of North Dakota farm and ranch families with assistance when weather-related disasters wreaked havoc on their crops.