Already short on hay and forage after a hard winter, ranchers in North and South Dakota are continuing to reduce herds in response to severe drought conditions.

Earlier this week, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) urged USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide timely assistance to counties currently facing extreme drought conditions, and if drought conditions worsen, as they are expected, to be ready to provide expedited assistance from the Livestock Forage Program (LFP). They also asked that Conservation Reserve Program acres be made available for emergency haying and grazing.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R-SD) declared a statewide emergency for his state Friday.



The most recent drought monitor shows all of North Dakota and about 80% of South Dakota is at some level of dryness or drought. Both states are asking to ease haying and transportation restrictions to assist ag producers.

AgDay reports Doug Goehring, North Dakota state agriculture commissioner, got a first-hand look at the drought conditions, adding there was a 4” to 5”-inch rainfall deficit from March 10 to June 10 in central North Dakota.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture has developed a Drought Hotline Map, showing counties in need of hay, locations of hay haulers and those willing to sell hay. Click below to drag and zoom in and out for services. A black button in the bottom center of the map will reveal contact information for those interested in selling, hauling or buying hay.

Click, drag and zoom on the map above to see counties in need of hay supplies, hay hauler contact information and suppliers with hay for sale. The map also highlights current drought areas and current radar conditions. To see the map full screen, click here. 
Source: North Dakota Department of Agriculture


Goehring says it is “heartbreaking” to see livestock producers lined up for almost a mile at auction markets. With a lack of adequate grazing and feed, they’re selling their genetics that took years to build.

In early June, Drovers editor Greg Henderson reported a greater number of cattle were heading for market than normal for this time of year because of the dry conditions. The Bismarck Tribune reported Kist Livestock Auction in Mandan, N.D., selling 1,000 to 1,300 more cattle per week than normal. Cattle coming to market are from a widespread area, and other auctions in the state are seeing similar increases, Matt Lachenmeier, a fieldman at the Mandan, ND auction told the Tribune. The livestock auction markets in Kist and Aberdeen, S.D., have added second weekly sales to accommodate the significant increase in drought-forced herd reductions. Read more here.