Drought hay aid program helps nearly 500 North Dakota ranchers

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — An emergency state program helped nearly 500 drought-stricken North Dakota ranchers with the expense of hauling in hay to maintain their herds through winter.

The state Emergency Commission in late August approved $1.5 million for the Agriculture Department’s Emergency Hay Transportation Assistance Program. Figures released this week show 491 successful applicants who will be reimbursed on average about one-third of their hay-hauling costs.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says ranchers who applied moved more than 289,000 bales a combined distance of 1.3 million miles, providing winter feed for more than 126,000 livestock.

Hay is essential to getting cattle through the often-brutal North Dakota winter. An average adult cow eats about 3 tons of hay over the winter feeding season.