Ag Commissioner Tours Drought Areas

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Irrational and stupid. That’s how Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring says ranchers describe the federal government.

This in response to the drought that has slammed western North Dakota.

Goehring visited ranches in McHenry and Stark Counties today, hearing from producers worried about the future of their operations.
Jim Olson was there as the commissioner visited near Bergen – in McHenry County.

(Doug Goehring, ND Ag Commissioner) “There has to be some latitude – some flexibility.”

And that’s something that Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring says seems to be missing in the federal government’s rules that could help drought-stressed ranchers in North Dakota.

(Doug Goehring, ND Ag Commissioner) “People are getting desparate. They get all the more frustrated with irrational and some would say stupid thinking.”

Goehring told local ranchers he’s asked the feds to open up CRP land – normally off limits to grazing except in emergencies – to make that move as of July First. But he’s been told it will be a month later.

(Doug Goehring, ND Ag Commissioner) “By the time we get to that point, there’s nothing left out here.”

CRP grazing is one possible lifeline for ranchers who’ve watched as unusual springtime drought take hold.

(Tim Kvamme, McHenry County Rancher-Farmer) “We just haven’t had any moisture since the snow. I suppose we’ve had 40-hundredths at the most.”
(Paul Thomas, McHenry County Farmer) “It’s so early in the year and that’s what’s worrysome. We look at the typical July and August – hotter and drier and that’s worrysome.”

Farmer Paul Thomas says one other possible solution is to allow ranchers to graze cattle on farmland where crops will be worthless if the drought persists.

(Paul Thomas, McHenry County Farmer) “We both can benefit from it. Because I know one thing, we don’t want to see a bunch of cattle moving to market. That ain’t going to do anything for anybody.”

But that could be a problem too – because there’ll be so much nitrogen in those fields it could poison the cattle without some other crop being planted to neutralize the nitrates in the grains. And NDSU rangeland specialist says it all adds up to an expensive dry spell.

(Kevin Sedivec, NDSU Rangeland Specialist) “When you’ve got dry conditions, costs just go up and it makes it hard to break even for our livestock producers in the northern plains.”
(Tim Kvamme, McHenry County Rancher-Farmer) “I’m in survival mode now – see what we can do to get up some feed for these cattle.”

In McHenry County, Jim Olson, KX News.

Goehring says even if we get big rain this week…that wouldn’t rescue pasture land because critical cool-season grass is beyond being saved.

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