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Published May 09, 2008, 12:00 AM

Hoeven declares statewide agriculture drought emergency

BISMARCK - With extended dry conditions across the state and little significant rainfall in the forecast, Gov. John Hoeven today declared a statewide “early phase agricultural drought emergency.”

BISMARCK - With extended dry conditions across the state and little significant rainfall in the forecast, Gov. John Hoeven today declared a statewide “early phase agricultural drought emergency.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson called for such a declaration two weeks ago after receiving requests from county extension agents and individual farmers.

The declaration allow the state Livestock Water Assistance Program, which shares the cost of permanent livestock water supply systems with ag producers. Typically this would mean ag producers getting state aid to help hook up to rural water systems or drill a new well, said Johnson.

The governor also called a special meeting of the North Dakota Water Commission for Wednesday, to reactivate and fund the program. Johnson said the Water Commission office doesn't have money in its budget and that requires the commissioners to meet to fund the program.

“We have the potential for continuing dry conditions that could cause real hardship to farmers and ranchers across the state,” the governor said. “We’ve had no appreciable precipitation in many areas of the state and this may pose a problem for crop production and for livestock water needs later on this summer.”

There was little snowfall this winter in many areas and precipitation this spring has been well below normal, creating abnormally dry conditions, Hoeven said. Consequently, livestock water sources, including pasture ponds and dugouts, are dry because they were not replenished by spring runoff. This, coupled with dry conditions, low subsoil moisture levels, high winds and lack of rainfall, will have a detrimental impact on crop and pasture conditions, he said.

The declaration also directs the Agriculture Working Group of the Drought Task Force to convene and directs all state agencies and departments to maintain agricultural drought response resources and capabilities at high levels of readiness to effectively execute the State Emergency Operations Plan.

Read more in tomorrow's Forum.

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