Emergency Commission approves $2.5M for hay transportation assistance

Michelle Mielke
Devils Lake Daily Journal

BISMARCK -  North Dakota Emergency Commission has approved $2.5 million to reactivate the Emergency Feed Transportation Assistance Program to help reimburse a portion of hay transportation expenses for eligible livestock producers who have lost feed supplies due to drought.

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows all of North Dakota is in some stage of drought, with 13% in exceptional drought, 60% in extreme drought, 26% percent in severe drought and less than 1% in moderate drought. Burgum declared a statewide drought disaster on April 8, and drought conditions have continued to deteriorate since then. Rainfall last week resulted in only slight improvement in this week’s drought report.

Burgum, who chairs the Emergency Commission, called today’s special meeting to address Goehring’s request for the program made earlier this week. The Emergency Commission consists of Burgum as chair, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ray Holmberg and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jeff Delzer. The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the program, with Delzer absent.

“The widespread nature of this devastating drought is forcing North Dakota ranchers to go hundreds of miles to find hay to keep their cattle fed and maintain their herds, adding extra costs to their operations at an incredibly challenging time,” Burgum said. “The emergency assistance approved today will provide real relief by lowering the cost barrier between strained livestock producers and faraway hay stocks. We are grateful for the Emergency Commission’s support and remain committed to using all appropriate resources to help the farmers and ranchers who form the foundation of our communities and economy.”

“The drought has created unprecedented impacts to forage production. Hay shortages have forced producers to purchase and transport hay from increasingly further distances,” Goehring said. “This program will assist producers with defraying some of those costs to help maintain the genetics of their herd and sustain their operation into the next year. As agriculture is the leading industry in the state’s economy, it is vital to the future of our state to provide assistance to these producers.”

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows all of North Dakota is in some stage of drought, with 13% in exceptional drought, 60% in extreme drought, 26% percent in severe drought and less than 1% in moderate drought. Burgum declared a statewide drought disaster on April 8, and drought conditions have continued to deteriorate since then. Rainfall last week resulted in only slight improvement in this week’s drought report.

The $2.5 million emergency grant program will be limited to livestock owners who have verifiable feed losses due to drought conditions and must purchase and transport supplemental feed between April 8 and Nov. 30, 2021. Assistance will be provided for a portion of feed transportation costs, which will be reviewed and approved based on standard trucking rates.

The $2.5 million emergency grant program will be limited to livestock owners who have verifiable feed losses due to drought conditions and must purchase and transport supplemental feed between April 8 and Nov. 30, 2021. Assistance will be provided for a portion of feed transportation costs, which will be reviewed and approved based on standard trucking rates. Producers must provide verifiable records of livestock inventories and hay transportation expenses.

Funding for the program is provided through the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, which will borrow the $2.5 million from the Bank of North Dakota. A similar request was approved in 2019 for $250,000 for the Emergency Feed Transportation Assistance Program.