BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is urging livestock producers, especially those with animals in or near flood-prone areas, to make sure that they have plans in place for sheltering and feeding the animals.

“With the high water content of the snowfall we've been getting and with at least two more months of winter ahead of us, it is very possible that we will have serious flooding in some parts of the state this spring,” Goehring said. “Producers need to be prepared to move their animals or their feed quickly if necessary.”

Goehring said valuable lessons were learned from the winter and spring of 2008-09, when more than 100,000 head of livestock – cattle, sheep, horses and bison – were lost to flooding and spring blizzards in North Dakota.

“Areas that had rarely known flooding were inundated,” Goering said. “Some producers were caught without enough accessible feed, and livestock in some locations were stranded without access to feed.”

Goehring said now is the time to make preparations.

“With the ground frozen, producers can use their heavy equipment to transport feed to safer areas where livestock can reach it,” he said. “It might be a good time to reassess hay stocks to make sure there's enough to get them to summer.”

The commissioner noted that federal disaster assistance for producers may be limited or unavailable in case of flooding.

“In 2009, state and federal sources offered some disaster loans programs to flood-affected producers,” he said. “Given the state of the federal budget, some of that kind of help may not be available.”