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Published July 07, 2011, 05:20 PM

Farmers, ranchers unsure of hit from ND flooding

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota's top agriculture official warned on Thursday that the full damage that this year's floods will have on farmers and ranchers has yet to be seen.

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota's top agriculture official warned on Thursday that the full damage that this year's floods will have on farmers and ranchers has yet to be seen.

Doug Goehring said as many as 6.5 million acres of land have been affected by flooding and rain, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Goehring spoke to state agriculture officials and others at a forum in Mandan.

"We have millions of acres that won't produce anything this year," he said.

Shane Goettle, state director for U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said flooded land that gets planted this year might not be harvested. Crops planted late often produce less at harvest, particularly as the weather gets colder.

"The window is very short," Goettle said.

Changing the federal farm bill to help local farmers would be difficult, as Congress continues to fight over raising the nation's debt ceiling, he said. "It's going to be tough to get anything done this year," he said.

Five counties in North Dakota have been approved for federal disaster aid: Burleigh, McHenry, Morton, Renville and Ward. Officials continue to monitor the Souris River, which has forced thousands from their homes in Minot.

Federal money can pay for much of the cleanup, as well as repairs to corrals and fences. But some programs require farmers and ranchers to report their losses within 30 days.

In some cases, land that remains underwater can't be fully assessed yet, particularly since roads connecting farms are also still flooded.

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