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Jun 7, 2018
Press Release

Recording: Download Audio 1, Audio 2

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service Bill Northey today to discuss the challenges associated with last year’s drought and the potential reoccurrence of similar issues this year.          

In 2017, Cramer worked closely with the USDA to help mitigate the impact of last year’s drought on North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers. This included enabling emergency haying and grazing on conservation reserve program acres, helping ranchers, especially contract growers, navigate the livestock forage program and highlighting problems associated with the Pasture Rangeland Forage Program Crop Insurance Instrument. These issues fall under Northey’s direct authority.     

“With last year’s drought behind us, and one potentially before us, we can at least count on Secretary Perdue and his team to have our backs in case it is needed. As a former Secretary of Agriculture for the State of Iowa, Under Secretary Northey understands our issues,” said Cramer. “Drought or not, with his supervision over Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency, there is no one besides Secretary Perdue who is more relevant at USDA. I look forward to working with him to ensure USDA best serves our hard working farmers and ranchers while we pray for timely moisture.”

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 amended Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) by removing the $20 million annual mandatory funding cap. ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events, such as drought as determined by the Secretary. Cramer and Northey discussed this tool and how it may best serve North Dakotans as a disaster relief resource.    

The United States Drought Monitor published this morning shows 14 percent of the state is in a severe drought, doubling from last week’s seven percent. One year ago, there was no area of severe drought in the state. Cramer’s constituents, however, are always the best source of information.     

Cramer added, “Both from my own observation and hearing directly from North Dakotans, I am happy to hear of pockets of rain. With a state as large as North Dakota, along with the variety of agriculture products we produce, my team and I are keeping a close eye as the year progresses. Aside from additional rainfall, I am particularly concerned for our ranchers, as forage issues may again arise.”     

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