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Farmers and ranchers discuss drought support

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 9:47 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – As North Dakota’s historic drought continues, agriculture experts met with farmers and ranchers Wednesday and Thursday at locations across the state to discuss ways they can keep their crops alive.

Farmers and ranchers like Kevin Hansen from Ryder are hoping to learn more ways to help their crops and livestock during a year unlike any other.

“It’s been a challenging year. We’ve had many obstacles to overcome, I guess. We’ve been working on many different projects trying to better our grazing systems and improve the quality of life for our livestock,” said Hansen.

Ranchers are facing extreme challenges when it comes to feeding and watering their animals, leading many to the sale barn.

Kevin Sedivec, a rangeland management specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension office in Ward County said this year, he is predicting the state will only produce 30% of hay.

“If you need to buy hay, finding it will be one issue. Can you afford it is the second issue, and then you have to truck it,” said Sedivec.

Assistance programs through Farm Service Agency, such as the Emergency Conservation Program help with getting temporary and permanent water measures to ranchers.

“We’ve been working diligently on trying to get different sources of water and incorporating wells and pipeline and those kinds of things to improve the water quality out in our pastures,” said Hansen.

Later in the afternoon, state and federal leaders listened to farmers and ranchers about their concerns about assistance programs.

“The reality is the resources that we have might not go far enough. The tools that we have might not be tailored to fit a five-state-wide drought, so we need to be thoughtful, be flexible and be thinking about the future,” said Zach Ducheneaux, a Farm Service Administrator.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, along with FSA and Risk Management officials will take back their concerns to Washington, D.C. to get more funding and different legislation approved.

In the meantime, producers are staying strong.

“We are resilient and there ain’t too many things that are gonna get us down. We have been through a lot of weather before and we are going to come out on time again, but it’s going to take some time,” said Hansen.

They have the rest of the year to go, but hopefully with more help from the available programs.

Hoeven and other federal officials will have more roundtable discussions with producers across the state.

The next meetings will take place Thursday in Carrington and Argusville.

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