USDA Board approves damage assessment reports


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s North Dakota State Emergency Board reviewed and approved damage assessment reports for 42 North Dakota counties yesterday.  The reports will now be sent on to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to support a potential disaster designation for those counties.

The damage assessment process was completed in response to Governor Jack Dalrymple’s request to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for a secretarial disaster designation.  The designation, if made by the Secretary, makes low-interest emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) available to eligible producers.

“When we look at the reports that we’ve gotten from counties, it’s really apparent how wild of a year it was for weather,” said Aaron Krauter, State Executive Director for Farm Service Agency in North Dakota and chair of the State Emergency Board.  “In 2011, we saw everything from late blizzards to early frost, from too cold to too hot, hail, tornadoes, landslides, floods.  There weren’t many disasters that we didn’t see in the state this year. “

One of the biggest factors for a potential disaster designation, Krauter says, is the amount of unplanted cropland in the state.  “When you start your growing season with 5.6 million acres – almost a quarter of the cropland in the state – unplanted, you’d have to have some pretty remarkable weather to help the crops along to absorb that loss.  And this year, we just didn’t get that boost.”