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ND Emergency Commission approves $1.5 million for hay transportation program amid drought

Corn grows in late July in a field north of Dickinson, N.D. Western North Dakota is in a drought that has spanned most of the spring and summer. Experts agree the drought could have large ramifications for the state's economy. April Baumgarten / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Emergency Commission approved $1.5 million for a hay transportation program for drought-stricken livestock producers Tuesday, Aug. 22.

The commission, chaired by Gov. Doug Burgum, approved a request from the adjutant general to borrow $1.5 million from the Bank of North Dakota. The funding would then be sent to the Department of Agriculture to administer the program.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring proposed the program as a way to reimburse a portion of hay transportation costs to eligible producers who have suffered losses during the drought, according to a program summary provided by the state Department of Agriculture. Hay shortages have forced producers to look long distances for hay.

Republican Rep. Jeff Delzer, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the challenge ranchers are facing during the drought, but questioned whether state law gave the commission the authority to authorize such a request. He was the lone dissenting vote.

"I think this is a bad precedent that we're setting," Delzer said. "I'm sure the department will do a very good job with the program. I hope it helps."

Almost 63 percent of the state was in a severe, extreme or exceptional drought last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The commission also approved a request from the adjutant general to accept almost $3.4 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and to borrow $615,000 from the Bank of North Dakota for spring flooding costs in 10 counties and the Turtle Mountain reservation.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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