Yesterday, Farm Broadcaster Jessica Benson attended Senator John Hoeven’s Drought Tour in Argusville, ND. Senator Hoeven was teamed with USDA officials Richard Flournoy and Zach Ducheneaux, as well as a panel of producers and professionals working within the agricultural industry. Each official and panelist expressed their current status in regards to the drought, as well as their concerns for the future. One major concern that was brought up most often was finding ways to streamline the process for producers to apply for and receive aid in FSA programs. Flourney said that audits would now be less of a priority, considering the dire situation most producers are experiencing throughout the state of North Dakota, and this is one of the ways they hope to speed these processes up. Staffing concerns at FSA offices was also an issue that arose during the conversations between Senator Hoeven and local crop adjusters, further altering the speed at which paperwork and applications can be processed.
Senator Hoeven also discussed the opening of CRP for grazing and haying, with hopes that this would be enacted very soon to relieve farmers and ranchers. Every week, USDA updates the map of counties eligible for emergency haying and/or grazing based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Counties are approved for emergency haying and grazing when they are designated as level “D2 Drought – Severe” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Senator Hoeven said this is the worst drought he’s ever seen in his lifetime, stating, “It hits the ranchers right away in terms of grass for the cattle and it’s a situation where they need to try and find feed.”