Dalrymple urges USDA officials to enact policy changes to address statewide hay shortages


Governor Jack Dalrymple today urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials to enact policy changes to address hay shortages across the state as a result of widespread flooding and excessive surface water. Specifically, Dalrymple asked department officials to waive rules relative to planting cover crops on Prevented Planting (PP) lands and to permit emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land.

In a letter to William Murphy, administrator of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), Dalrymple requested that the date for harvesting cover crops on PP land without a financial penalty be changed from November 1 to September 1. Currently, if producers harvest cover crops on PP land prior to November 1, they would receive a reduction in their PP payments. The change would allow producers the opportunity to harvest cover crops after September 1 to help them recoup lost hay and pasture acres without a reduction in their PP payments.

In addition, the Governor stated that the planting of cover crops could serve an important role in flood prevention and mitigation efforts. He cited a recent case study by the National Resources Conservation Service that determined that large amounts of water could be removed from the soil by planting a combination of cover crops. The study found that crops seeded on July 15 would use in excess of 7.5 inches of soil water, reducing ground and surface water and mitigating future flooding impacts.

Dalrymple also asked U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Aaron Krauter to authorize the opening of all CRP land in the state for haying and grazing. The authorization would help address feed shortages for producers whose traditional hay and pasture areas have been inundated by flooding and oversaturation. The Governor’s request would allow farmers and ranchers in flood devastated counties to graze CRP acres in their region that have not been inundated, as well as permit them to access hay from other regions of the state that have not been affected.

“North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of widespread flooding, creating economic losses and a shortage of pasture and hay land,” Dalrymple said. “These relief measures will help producers recover from prevented planting losses and provide access to much needed feed for their livestock.”

The Governor’s letters identify a variety of weather events contributing to excess water statewide, including above-average snowfall, spring flooding and wet spring weather. As a result, planting was severely delayed across the entire state, resulting in many acres of farmland not being seeded at all. North Dakota FSA estimated that as of June 23, there were almost 6.3 million prevented planting acres in the state. Among the lands affected include traditional hay and pasture areas, contributing to the depletion of feed supplies for North Dakota producers.

Dalrymple asked USDA officials to give immediate consideration to his requests due to the excessive amount of water across the state and the negative impact a delay would have on livestock and producers. In the event that his policy change requests are not met, the Governor invited Murphy to North Dakota to discuss solutions to the state’s hay shortages.

Source: Office of Governor Dalrymple