Emergency CRP grazing authorized in the Dakotas and Montana

Emergency CRP grazing authorized in the Dakotas and Montana

Drought conditions are harming crops and also have prompted many ranchers to sell off cattle.

Ryan Melin, fire manager for the North Dakota Forest Service, said indicators that predict the potential for fire and its severity are more serious now than in previous years in June.

"We've all been through this before, but it's a hard pill to swallow", he said.

Doug Burgum declared a drought emergency this week and directed state agencies to coordinate drought response efforts. Some 67% of North Dakota, 51% of South Dakota, and 27% of Montana are in moderate to extreme drought.

Burgum signed an executive order declaring a drought emergency for 15 counties in an extreme drought and 11 counties adjacent to them, his office said Thursday night.

"We've got some real fire risk potentially coming", Burgum said.

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North Dakota rivals Kansas as the leading wheat state in the country, growing spring and durum wheat, while Kansas specializes in winter wheat.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Drought conditions have worsened dramatically in North Dakota over the past week.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and the state's congressional delegation recently appealed to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to release the land.

Perdue says that without alternative forage options, ranchers could be devastated economically.

"If the drought continues and pasture recovery becomes less likely, feed supplies will decline, the quality and quantity of hay is reduced and stock water becomes scarce - considerable stressors for both the livestock and our producers", Perdue says.

Emergency grazing is authorized immediately and is avaliable until September 30, pending if conditions don't improve. The water commission has $250,000 available to assist eligible livestock producers with 50 percent cost-share assistance of up to $3,500 per project.

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