BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota's largest livestock group and its biggest corn organizations have launched initiatives to help ranchers devastated by drought.
The North Dakota Stockmen's Association and its foundation have established the Hope for the Heartland Drought Relief Fund. Donations will be distributed early next year, with applications being accepted through the end of this year. A selection committee comprised of ranchers will decide who receives money.
The North Dakota Corn Growers Association and Corn Utilization Council are urging farmers to provide free or low-cost corn grazing or corn stalk bales to ranchers. Association board members have already contributed hundreds of acres and tons of bales.
Most of North Dakota is in some stage of drought. Many ranchers are selling off cattle they can't feed or searching for affordable hay.
BISMARCK, N.D. - Gov. Doug Burgum and state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring will continue their series of drought meetings next week with town hall events in Stanley and Beach. State agencies will provide informational resources for farmers, ranchers and other North Dakotans impacted by extreme drought conditions.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor reported 82 percent of the state in some level of drought, including 43 percent in extreme or exceptional drought across much of western North Dakota. Recent widespread rainfall has benefited row crops and pastures, but drought effects are still being felt. As of Sunday, over half of the state's topsoil moisture supplies were rated short or very short, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The first 30 minutes of each meeting next week will provide opportunities to speak with agency officials and pick up fliers, brochures and other information about assistance programs. The formal part of the meeting will begin around 5:30 p.m., with the governor and agriculture commissioner addressing those in attendance and taking questions.
Both meetings are open to the public and the press. Meeting times and locations are as follows:
Time: 5-8 p.m. CDT Monday, Aug. 21
Location: Mountrail County South Complex, 8103 61st St. N.W.
Time: 5-8 p.m. MDT Thursday, Aug. 24
Location: Beach Community Center, 153 Main St.
For more information on drought and wildfires, visit www.ndresponse.gov.
BISMARCK, N.D. - Newly appointed members of the State Water Commission will meet for the first time next week and are expected to address an issue raised about the appointment process and recent action to help drought-stricken ranchers.
Gov. Doug Burgum, who chairs the commission, appointed seven new members last Thursday. The following day, Burgum, State Engineer Garland Erbele and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who serves as an ex-officio member of the commission, received a memo from an assistant attorney general regarding the appointment process.
Under state law, all seven appointed members of the State Water Commission are considered to have resigned effective January 1st of the first year of each four-year term of the governor. Burgum accepted the members' statutorily triggered resignations on June 22nd.
To maintain continuity on the board, per state law Burgum reappointed three members to continue serving until the governor's new appointments had been named and qualified.
The assistant attorney general asserts that because the terms of the reappointed members expired on June 30th, the commission's July 20th special meeting lacked a quorum, and therefore the $500,000 approved for the livestock water supply program on a 5-0 vote during that meeting wasn't properly approved.
The governor's general counsel, Leslie Bakken Oliver, said the appointment process was done carefully and is consistent with the requirements set forth in North Dakota law, which states, "in all cases the members of boards and commissions shall continue to serve until their successors have been named and qualified." She noted the requirement that members remain in place beyond their appointed term, until a successor has been named and qualified, is commonplace under state law.
To move past their differing interpretations of the law, Oliver has suggested following the assistant attorney general's recommendation that actions taken during the July 20 meeting be ratified by the commission at its Aug. 23 meeting. The $500,000 has not yet been disbursed through the livestock water supply program, which provides eligible livestock producers with 50 percent cost-share assistance of up to $3,500 per project, with a maximum of three projects per applicant.
The seven new commission members are Jason Zimmerman of Minot, Mark Owan of Williston, Leander "Russ" McDonald of Bismarck, Richard Johnson of Devils Lake, Katie Andersen of Jamestown, Michael Anderson of Hillsboro and Matthew Pedersen of Valley City.
The State Water Commission has the authority to investigate, plan, construct and develop water-related projects, and serves as a mechanism to financially support those efforts throughout North Dakota. The State Engineer serves as the commission's executive officer, overseeing the staff who carry out the commission's work.
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