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Hay bales sit in the sun at a farm near Bainville, Montana. 

North Dakota’s Emergency Commission has approved $2.5 million for the Emergency Feed Transportation Assistance Program, to help reimburse some of the hay transportation expenses for eligible producers who have lost feed supplies due to drought.

Producers seeking more information about the program may email haytransport@nd.gov or call 1-844-642-4752. Applications will be available on the Department of Agriculture’s website at www.nd.gov/ndda in mid-September and will close Dec. 15, 2021.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring had requested emergency re-activation of the haying program, which is the same as the one approved in 2019, last week.

“The drought has created unprecedented impacts to forage production. Hay shortages have forced producers to purchase and transport hay from increasingly further distances,” Goehring said. “This program will assist producers with defraying some of those costs to help maintain the genetics of their herd and sustain their operation into the next year. As agriculture is the leading industry in the state’s economy, it is vital to the future of our state to provide assistance to these producers.”

The entire state of North Dakota lies in some form of drought according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor map. Thirteen percent of the state is in exceptional drought, 60 percent in extreme drought, and 26 percent is severe. A remaining 1 percent is listed in moderate drought.

Gov. Doug Burgum declared a statewide drought disaster on April 8. Conditions have continued to deteriorate since then, and recent rainfall has made only a slight improvement.

“The widespread nature of this devastating drought is forcing North Dakota ranchers to go hundreds of miles to find hay to keep their cattle fed and maintain their herds, adding extra costs to their operations at an incredibly challenging time,” Burgum said. “(This) will provide real relief by lowering the cost barrier between strained livestock producers and faraway hay stocks. We are grateful for the Emergency Commission’s support and remain committed to using all appropriate resources to help the farmers and ranchers who form the foundation of our communities and economy.”

Burgum chairs the Emergency Commission. Other members include Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Sen. Majority Leader Rich Wardner, House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ray Holmberg, and How Appropriations Committee Chairman Jeff Delzer.

The commission voted 5 to 0 to approve the program. Delzer was absent.

The emergency grants will be limited to livestock owners how have verifiable feed losses due to drought conditions, and had to purchase and transport supplemental feed between April 8 and Nov. 30, 2021. The assistance will provide a portion of the costs, which will be approved based standard trucking rates. Producers must provide documentation of both livestock inventories and hay transportation expenses.

Funding for the program came through the North Dakota Department of agriculture, which will borrow the money from the Bank of North Dakota.

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