BISMARCK — As livestock producers throughout much of North Dakota face a shortage of feed due to difficult growing and harvesting seasons, the state has announced a $250,000 feed transportation program.

Gov. Doug Burgum and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring on Thursday, Dec. 12, announced the Emergency Feed Transportation Assistance Program to help producers who have verifiable feed losses as a result of extraordinary weather conditions.

“Some producers have lost feed or were unable to access feed and have had to purchase hay or feed,” Goehring said in a statement. “This program will assist producers with defraying some of those transportation costs.”

The state Emergency Commission met Dec. 11 and approved the program. The commission is made up of the governor, secretary of state, the majority leaders of the state Senate and the state House, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

North Dakota State University Extension conducted a survey in November of forage availability. Miranda Meehan, Extension livestock environmental specialist, said the results of the survey were startling. Producers across the northern part of the state dealt with their third year of extremely dry conditions in spring and early summer, followed by excess moisture and flooding. And throughout most of the state, wet conditions led to difficulties in putting up feed in good quality.

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“The numbers are just heartbreaking. There are a lot of produces that don’t have enough forage for the next 60 days much less to get through the entire winter,” Meehan said.

A December addition to the survey showed that more favorable conditions in late November helped give ranchers more time to move forage and complete silage harvest. However, Meehan said the quality of the feed in most cases is quite low. More than half of operations in 14 counties reported in early December that they would not have enough forage to feed their livestock for 180 days — the approximate length of time most producers in North Dakota feed stored forage.

To qualify for the Emergency Feed Transportation Assistance Program, producers must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have verifiable feed losses which required the producer to purchase supplemental feed or haul breeding livestock to a feedlot. Examples include being unable to cut corn to make silage, having hay that was flooded or having lost access to hay or other feed.

  • Must own at least 25 animal unit equivalents of dairy cattle, beef cattle, bison, sheep or goats.

  • Feed must be used for the purposes of the producer’s own livestock operation.

  • Transportation costs must have been incurred between Sept. 30, 2019, and Jan. 31, 2020.

  • Must have costs related to transportation outside of an applicant’s normal livestock operation.

Producers must provide verifiable feed losses through photos, written descriptions and third-party verifications. Applicants must have receipts for purchased feed and transportation costs. Transportation costs will be reviewed and approved based on standard trucking rates. The program will reimburse producers a portion of expenses dependent on the total amount of eligible applications received and approved through the program.

Livestock producers interested in applying or wanting to find more information on eligibility should go to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s website at www.nd.gov/ndda to fill out and submit an application or to download a paper version. Applications must be submitted or postmarked by Feb. 10, 2020.

Goehring encouraged those willing to help transport feed to add their name and information to the Hay Hotline database by calling 701-425-8454. A self-service Hay Hotline map is available at www.nd.gov/ndda for those looking for forage.

Questions about acceptable feedstocks or filling out the application may be directed to 1-800-242-7535 or haytransport@nd.gov.

Meehan stressed the importance of evaluating herd feed needs sooner than later to make decisions about purchasing feed and about possible culling. On top of that, she urged producers to ask for help if they need it and to take care of themselves.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need assistance,” she said. “Your herd is important, but make sure that you’re taking care of yourself first and foremost, because if you don’t do that, no one is going to be there to take care of your herd.”