BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The severe drought plaguing nearly a third of North Dakota is creating concerns for the state's agriculture industry. A U.S. Department of Agriculture Drought Monitor graphic map released June 15th shows that 15 counties coming from both sides of the Missouri River are colored deep orange for severe drought, with all but a few others statewide colored pale orange for moderate drought.
National Weather Service hydrologist Allen Schlag tells The Bismarck Tribune that there's no relief in the near future either. He says temperatures will fall below average until the Fourth of July and there's no moisture pattern in sight.
Crop producer Stan Blickensderfer says that in a few weeks without rain, there will be no harvest.
BISMARCK, N.D. - Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring sent a request to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to help North Dakota ranchers by releasing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for early haying and grazing due to the severity of the ongoing drought conditions in the state. North Dakota's congressional delegation and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson have made the same request.
"Lack of measurable spring rains since early March combined with above average temperatures and wind have caused drought conditions across the state in varying degrees," Goehring said. "This cut forage production dramatically for livestock producers who depend on the early season development that makes up the majority of the hay crop and pasture growth."
In a letter to Secretary Perdue, Goehring outlined the desperate need for the opening of CRP acres to emergency haying and grazing.
"Our ultimate goal is to help provide our livestock community with as many options as possible to secure grazing for the remainder of the summer, as well as securing a feed source to carry them through the winter," Goehring said.
Based on the latest crop progress report put out by the USDA for the week ending June 18, North Dakota's topsoil moisture supplies were rated at 43 percent short to very short. Pasture and range conditions were rated 82 percent fair to very poor.
A free drought hotline and interactive map have been set up by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) for ranchers who need hay, or those with hay to sell or with pasture or hayland to rent. Individuals who are available to move hay are also encouraged to contact the hotline. To contact the Drought Hotline, call 701-425-8454 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The interactive map is available on the NDDA website at nd.gov/ndda.
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