BISMARCK – The extensive wet pattern in North Dakota, topped with an early snowstorm, is creating a great deal of anxiety for farmers and ranchers. The state is exploring all possible means of assistance and encouraging those in emotional distress to reach out for help, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Gov. Doug Burgum said today in a joint statement.
“We recognize the challenges our producers are experiencing,” Goehring said. “The wet weather has caused much disease in cereal crops and has created an inability to harvest remaining cereal grains and row crops, as well as potatoes and sugarbeets.”
“This difficult harvest season is putting farmers and ranchers under tremendous stress, both emotional and financial,” Burgum said. “Just as we did during the drought of 2017, we’re exploring every avenue to assist producers through these unseasonably and extremely wet conditions.”
The wet weather has also created some infrastructure problems as county and township roads are saturated or flooded, compromising the integrity of the roads and preventing farmers from driving equipment on them.
“We are continuing to assess and monitor conditions across the state and working with the Governor’s Office to determine which counties should be considered for a Secretarial disaster declaration,” Goehring said. “I am also having conversations with our congressional delegation about possible options such as a disaster program.”
A Secretarial disaster designation must be requested of the Secretary of Agriculture by a governor or the governor’s authorized representative, by an Indian Tribal Council leader, or by an FSA State Executive Director. Damages and losses prompting disaster designations must be due to a natural disaster; and the county must have a 30 percent production loss of at least one crop or a determination must be made by surveying producers that other lending institutions will not be able to provide emergency financing.
Goehring said he has also been engaged with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and has expressed concerns about quality discounts on grain that doesn’t reflect market discounts. “Storage on farms is limited to hold poor-quality grain for an extended period of time in order to take advantage of fewer discounts months later,” he said.
Goehring also reminded producers that they shouldn’t face difficult times alone. “I know it’s difficult to talk about your situation with family and friends but please share struggles and concerns with them or with someone else you trust,” he said. “Also, please utilize services available as they can be a good resource.”
Producers who are struggling with depression, sadness or feelings of hopelessness should reach out to one of the following options for services and support:
- Call 211, a statewide 24-hour crisis intervention, health and human services information and referral line.
- Refer yourself or anyone you have concerns about to a local health-care provider or local mental health professional. If you run into difficulty or resistance, suggest and accompany the person to a professional you know such as a clergy member, medically-trained personnel, nurses or other health-care professionals, law enforcement agencies or personnel, and local counselors, social workers or other mental health professionals.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK.
“Although it’s good to communicate with insurance, be sure you’ve had the ability to do a proper assessment of your situation, taking harvesting deadlines into account,” Goehring said. “This ensures assumptions are not made about your situation that could remove options or change the desired outcome you’re seeking on a claim. Sometimes being a well instead of a fountain will avoid misinterpretations about your potential claim. Keep in mind harvest deadlines for specific crops in your county and file claims accordingly with your agent.”