Mediation service available for disaster assistance

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the North Dakota Mediation Service (NDMS) can help eligible North Dakota farmers and ranchers in dealing with the necessary paperwork for newly announced, federal disaster assistance.

“Gov. Jack Dalrymple has been informed that some counties in North Dakota have been declared a disaster due to the drought, and that farmers and ranchers in the designated counties can apply for emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency (FSA),” Goehring said. “Producers can contact their local FSA office to learn more about these loans and their eligibility and can call NDMS at 1-800-642-4752 for additional assistance.”

Goehring said producers have eight months to apply for an FSA emergency loan.

"Farmers and ranchers in drought-affected areas should also keep good records of their losses and expenses related to the drought,” Goehring said. “These records will be necessary for any additional assistance in case a new Farm Bill takes a retroactive approach to livestock and crop disaster programs.”

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack listed seven eastern North Dakota counties with sufficient production losses to warrant declaration as primary drought disaster areas. Producers in nine contiguous counties may also be eligible for assistance.

“These counties have suffered from a drought intensity value of at least D2 (Drought-Severe) for 8 or more consecutive weeks or D3 (Drought-Extreme) or higher at any time during the growing season according to the U.S. Drought Monitor,” Vilsack said.

Counties listed as primary drought disaster areas include Barnes, Cass, Grand Forks, Griggs, Nelson, Steele and Traill. Contiguous counties include Benson, Eddy, Foster, Lamoure, Ramsey, Ransom, Richland, Stutsman and Walsh.

Goehring also said the Farm and Ranch Disaster Relief Loan Program through the Bank of North Dakota is again available for farmers and ranchers in drought emergency areas.

“This program provides financing to replenish working capital,” Goehring said. “It also provides relief to borrowers by lowering their interest rate and providing options for reamortization of the loan term.”

More information about the program is available from local lenders or NDMS.