drought

Two loan programs through the Bank of North Dakota, designed to assist livestock producers affected by last year’s drought, are being extended.

The Breeding Stock Rebuilding program and the Feed Cost program were created after parts of the state suffered very dry conditions, and some ranchers had to sell off part or all of their herds. Both were implemented in late summer 2017.

Bank of North Dakota president Eric Hardmeyer said few loans were made last year in either program, as ranchers waited to see what was going to happen in 2018.

Two loan programs through the Bank of North Dakota, designed to assist livestock producers affected by last year’s drought, are being extended.

The Breeding Stock Rebuilding program and the Feed Cost program were created after parts of the state suffered very dry conditions, and some ranchers had to sell off part or all of their herds. Both were implemented in late summer 2017.

Bank of North Dakota president Eric Hardmeyer said few loans were made last year in either program, as ranchers waited to see what was going to happen in 2018.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Beneficial.

That’s how National Weather Service hydrologist Allen Schlag describes the snow we’ve had over the last few days.

"Probably anybody who's out there shoveling really like the idea of calling this 'beneficial,'" Schlag joked.

But Schlag said it has been a helpful event for agriculture and the environment.

"Prior to coming into this weekend, we were well below normal for both snowfall received and snowpack retained on the countryside," Schlag said. "The current snowfall we've received -- there's nothing in it that is alarming."

ND Agriculture Dept.

2017 will be remembered in North Dakota’s agriculture community for the drought.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said the drought hit cattle producers especially hard.

"Because of the lack of feed and forage, and having to go out and purchase more and more hay, having to find pasture further away -- it was daunting," Goehring said.

ND Bankers Association

The president of the North Dakota Bankers Association said he’s seeing a more optimistic outlook from North Dakota farmers and ranchers.

Rick Clayburgh said the rain the state has received over the last few weeks is fueling that optimism. He said while the drought did hurt some farmers and ranchers, especially in western and central North Dakota, he’s seeing a better attitude among them, as well as their bankers.

ND Grain Growers Assoc.

The executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association has this assessment of the drought.

"Oh, goodness sakes -- the drought is devastating in western North Dakota," said Dan Wogsland.

Wogsland said when he was on the crop quality tour at the end of July, what he saw stunned him.

"I went from Mandan to Richardton, up to Halliday and over to Hazen," Wogsland said. "I was astounded at how many wheat fields were bailed up. It's really, really tough."

Prairie Public file

Some help may be on the way for ranchers who need to bring hay to their drought-stricken ranches.

Gov. Doug Burgum and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring have announced the "Emergency Hay Transportation Assistance Program."

"The program is designed to help defray some of the costs of bringing hay to the ranchers that need it," Goehring said.

"You've got to go a long way to get hay back to your cattle," Gov. Burgum said. "Those transportation costs go up."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Another impact of the drought in south-central North Dakota.

The developer of a wind farm and new transmission line in Oliver County will delay replanting of trees and shrubs affected by the development. That replanting is required by the Public Service Commission.

Oliver Wind III, LLC will delay planting until next year.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the delay is a good idea.

"They were concerned there would be a low survivability of the trees and shrubs they did plant," Fedorchak said. "That's because of the lack of rain and drought conditions."

ND Department of Mineral Resources

The state’s Industrial Commission is extending the waivers for inactive oil wells and non-completed wells.

Non-completed wells have been drilled, but have not been fracked. The inactive wells have been drilled and fracked, but are not producing oil. Current waivers say those wells need to be active a year after being granted a waiver – but the Commission is extending that for another six months.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms told the Industrial Commission there are a number of reasons. One is price.

The drought conditions being seen in most areas of North Dakota are forcing many farmers and ranchers to make tough decisions when it comes to raising cattle. Prairie Public reporter Todd McDonald has details...

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