Governor Steve Bullock today issued an Executive Order declaring the following counties are in a drought emergency:
Blaine, Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, Hill, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sheridan, Valley, and Wibaux Counties, as well as the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation
“Farmers and ranchers from many Eastern Montana communities are feeling the impacts of drought conditions,” said Governor Bullock. “My administration is committed to making sure these impacts are minimized and will continue to work closely with these communities to monitor conditions and provide further assistance.”
Parts of these counties have seen record low precipitation, high temperatures, and excessive wind in the last two months. These conditions rapidly deteriorated crop and forage viability after a winter of below average precipitation.
The onset of drought became most notable when reports from many eastern and northeastern counties indicated producers were culling herds, buying hay, cutting crops early, and not seeing crops emerge 4-6 weeks after planting. Crops such as oats, spring wheat, edible dry peas, and sugarbeets are all suffering. In addition, pasture and range conditions are poor to very poor, per the June 18, 2017 Crop Progress Report. Ranchers reported extreme dust has made it difficult to keep track of all head, even during branding.
Governor Bullock also sent a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting a Secretarial Drought Disaster Designation, which would also allow Montana producers in affected counties and reservations to be eligible for the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Conservation Program, and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program. Earlier today, USDA authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands in Montana.
For more information visit www.drought.mt.gov.