August 23, 2017

USDA Designates 15 Counties in South Dakota as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Surrounding States

   In response to a request from Jamie White, Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) acting State Executive Director in South Dakota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 15 counties in South Dakota as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by multiple disaster conditions.

Designation Number 1: USDA has designated 12 counties in South Dakota as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by a recent drought. Those counties are:

Brown Hand Pennington
Brule Jerauld Stanley
Buffalo Lyman Tripp
Haakon Meade Ziebach

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in South Dakota also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

Aurora Custer Gregory Lawrence Perkins
Beadle Day Hughes McPherson Sanborn
Butte Dewey Hyde Marshall Spink
Charles Mix Edmunds Jackson Mellette Sully
Corson Faulk Jones Oglala Lakota Todd

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

Cherry and Keya Paha

North Dakota
Dickey and Sargent


Designation Number 2: USDA has designated Beadle, Hughes and Jones counties in South Dakota as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by ongoing drought that occurred from May 1, 2017, and continues.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in South Dakota also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

Clark Jerauld Sanborn
Haakon Kingsbury Spink
Hand Lyman Stanley
Hyde Mellette Sully

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Aug. 3, 2017, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for FSA’s emergency (EM) loans, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA service centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at


AUDIO Update: EPA’s Pruitt Gathers Local Input Ahead of an Overhaul for WOTUS

Gov. Burgum, Administrator Pruitt, Sen. Hoeven, Rep. Cramer – Source: Cramer’s Office

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. John Hoeven, and Congressman Kevin Cramer attended a Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) roundtable discussion this morning with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt in Fargo.

The visit by Administrator Pruitt comes in the wake of the recent EPA proposal to formally rescind the WOTUS rule created during the Obama Administration. The EPA plans to release a narrowly tailored rule in December.

Following the roundtable, Administrator Pruitt left for his next appearance in Grand Forks, but Burgum, Hoeven and Cramer fielded questions from the gathered media.

The following are officials comments from their offices on the event, along with audio from the press gathering. 

“We’re very grateful to host Administrator Pruitt in North Dakota and discuss how federal regulations impact energy, agriculture, and natural resources in our state, and to thank him for his efforts to roll back burdensome and overreaching regulations such as the Waters of the U.S.,” Burgum said. “We share the fundamental goals of protecting the environment, improving public health and bolstering our economy. We appreciate Administrator Pruitt’s commitment to empowering states to solve our collective challenges through more innovation instead of more regulation.”   Burgum

While the EPA’s plans to fix the WOTUS rule will help farmers and landowners in the near-term, Congressman Cramer strongly supports a legislative fix to ensure future Administrations cannot overreach again. “We in Congress need to enact a permanent fix to WOTUS to make sure this harmful rule doesn’t become a political game of ping-pong, where the rule can simply be re-proposed every time we have a Democrat in the White House,” said Cramer. Cramer

Reps. Mac Thornberry and Kevin Cramer sponsored H.R. 1261, the Federal Regulatory Certainty for Water Act, which clarifies in law what the definition of “navigable waters” means, and more importantly, what it does not mean. The bill is based on the late-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s interpretation of navigable waters, and states that waters under federal jurisdiction must be navigable, permanent, and continuously flowing bodies of water that form streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes. The bill also specifically excludes waters with flows that are intermittent, ephemeral, or wetlands that lack a continuous surface water connection with the previously described bodies of water.

“It’s both reckless and unconstitutional to have the federal government taking control of farmland across North Dakota each time we get a big rain,” said Cramer. “I applaud Administrator Pruitt’s concern for our farmers and support his stance that getting a permanent fix in Congress is the best way to ensure farmers don’t have to worry about this anymore.”

“The Waters of the U.S. rule is a prime example of a federal one-size-fits-all rule with far-reaching consequences,” Hoeven said.  “Those who live and work on the land have the greatest stake in protecting it.  Further, through our research and land-grant institutions, we have the expertise needed to develop solutions to ensure healthy soil, water and air.”  Hoeven

The senator urged Pruitt to continue working to advance a state-led approach to improving environmental stewardship, allowing states to account for regional differences and reducing costs, which benefits businesses and consumers.  This is especially important for small businesses, energy producers, farmers and ranchers.

In all, Administrator Pruitt is expected to visit 26 states before undertaking the eventual overhaul of the WOTUS rule.

Cramer’s Office, Hoeven’s Office, Burgum’s Office




Farm Credit Services of America Mobilizes to Help South Dakota Producers Impacted by Drought

Farm Credit Services of America has announced the mobilization of staff and financial resources to support the cooperative’s producer-owners impacted by drought.More than three-quarters of South Dakota is in moderate to severe drought and much of the remainder of the state is struggling with abnormal dryness. Yield expectations are down as a result, and acreage enrolled in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has been released by USDA for grazing.

Rusty Halvorson and Doug Stark at NAFB Trade Talk in Kansas City, 2015

“This drought is a hardship for South Dakota’s agricultural producers. It is one more potential impact to farm incomes already affected by low commodity prices,” said Doug Stark, FCSAmerica’s president and CEO. “Our financial cooperative exists to ensure farmers and ranchers have a dependable lender to see them through tough times. We’re putting our financial strength to work for our customers.”

FCSAmerica serves more than 10,000 farmers and ranchers in South Dakota, the vast majority of whom have seen crops and pastures impacted by drought. Bob Schmidt, FCSAmerica’s senior vice president for the state, said local teams are working with customers to identify strategies to help them manage through the challenges.

“Many of our South Dakota team members have agricultural backgrounds that, paired with years of lending experience, provide a unique understanding of our customers’ current needs,” Schmidt said. “We encourage all those affected by the drought to visit their local FCSAmerica office to discuss their credit. Our crop insurance agents also are available to meet with customers.”

FCSAmerica has customers in areas of Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming who also are seeing damage to crops and pastures. The cooperative is monitoring developments and responding to emerging needs.

About Farm Credit Services of America Farm Credit Services of America is a customer-owned financial cooperative proud to finance the growth of rural America, including the special needs of young and beginning producers. With $26.9 billion in assets and $4.9 billion in members’ equity, FCSAmerica is one of the region’s leading providers of credit and insurance services to farmers, ranchers, agribusiness and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Learn more at