DICKINSON, N.D.-North Dakota ranchers and farmers may find some relief from the recent drought after the state's congressional delegation announced Monday afternoon that Conservation Reserve Program acres have been opened for emergency haying.

This approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture enables emergency haying in counties experiencing drought conditions rated D2 or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor, as well as emergency haying in any county within 150 miles of a D2 county beginning on July 16.

Interested producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to access eligible acres.

Additionally, USDA is providing producers with FSA loans a 12-month exemption from a requirement that they have physical control of their livestock. This exemption will allow ranchers to weather the drought by moving their livestock to feedlots or other states where they have feed, forage and water, before taking back physical control at a later date.

"Our ranchers are facing real hardship due to the drought," said U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. "We appreciate USDA approving our request for emergency haying and providing greater flexibility to help producers access CRP forage before it loses its nutritional value. We will continue working with the USDA and our producers to do all we can to help them weather this drought."

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Late last month, the USDA opened up the CRP lands for emergency grazing, however that has now been expanded for people to come hay the land within 150 miles of severe drought areas.

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp added in a statement, "Our farmers and ranchers are tough - and have seen it all when it comes to weathering severe heat or cold, but just as ranchers told me last week in Bowman, they rarely, if ever come toe-to-toe with droughts of this magnitude, and the time for emergency federal resources is well past due."

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. said in a statement. "... By expeditiously deploying every option at the USDA's disposal, including emergency haying, North Dakota producers have a better chance to sustain their core herds and make it through this terrible drought. With all options on the table for ranchers, all we can do is continue to pray for better weather forecasts ahead."