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Gov. Gianforte Calls on USDA to Declare Montana a Drought Disaster Area

With every region of Montana facing severe to extreme drought conditions, Governor Greg Gianforte today called on U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to identify all counties in Montana as primary natural disaster areas.

“As we continue to see record-breaking temperatures from Libby to Glendive, it is imperative that the U.S. Department of Agriculture aid Montana communities in accessing critical resources, such as the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Conservation Program, and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, to respond to continued severe drought conditions on the ground,” the governor wrote in a letter to Secretary Vilsack.

The governor provided the current outlook, advising Vilsack that approximately 91 percent of Montana faces abnormally dry to extreme conditions as of June 22. At this time last year, approximately 52 percent of the state faced similar conditions.

Gov. Gianforte also noted, despite current conditions and forecasts, USDA has identified only 16 of Montana’s 56 counties as primary natural disaster areas.

Stressing the devastating impact of drought conditions on Montana agricultural producers, Gov. Gianforte continued, “Relief is needed as swiftly as possible, particularly for our agricultural producers, who are seeing impacts to forage and stock water availability due to drought conditions.”

With many Montana ranchers in need of forage, the governor also called on Vilsack to allow for emergency haying and grazing on all of Montana’s participating Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage.

“Because we expect record-breaking heat and associated drought, it is imperative that Montana can take advantage of viable acres of CRP land,” the governor wrote.

In response to drought conditions, Gov. Gianforte on Thursday morning declared a statewide drought emergency in Montana.

Gov. Gianforte’s letter urging USDA Secretary Vilsack to identify all counties in Montana as primary natural disaster areas can be viewed here.

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