At an roundtable meeting with agriculture leaders at the Nodak Electric Cooperative in Grand Forks today, Senator John Hoeven announced that $5.6 million of the $7 million the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) made available to a three-state region is now available to North Dakota producers. The funding will be used to compensate farmers and landowners for flooded land using short-term conservation leases. The Water Bank Program will focus on flood reduction this fiscal year.
North Dakota currently has 83 Water Bank Program long-term agreements in place. Approximately 75 percent of the agreements will be in the Devils Lake Basin area, with a majority located in Ramsey, Benson, Towner and Nelson counties in North Dakota.
"We focused on funding and shorter term leases in the Water Bank Program for the Devils Lake Region in particular," Hoeven said. "The shorter leases will help growers plant as the water recedes, enabling them to get their land back into production sooner."
Severe flooding of agricultural land has been a problem in North Dakota and the other states, parts of which lie in the prairie pothole region. Eligible land for this year's WBP included flooded agricultural land, flooded hay, pasture or rangeland, and flooded private forestland. The program is designed in particular for farmers in the Devils Lake region. The shorter easements will allow producers to use the land when the water recedes.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Hoeven worked to get the funding approved for Fiscal Year 2012. The Water Bank Program allows producers and landowners to enter into ten-year agreements to voluntarily protect wetlands and flooded agricultural lands in return for annual payments. The final bill allotted funding for the program and permitted the Secretary of Agriculture to waive limitations on the share of the funding any single state may receive, increasing the potential use of the program in North Dakota.
The Water Bank Program will focus on flood reduction this fiscal year. Severe flooding of agricultural land has been a problem in North Dakota and the other states, parts of which lie in the prairie pothole region. Eligible land for this year's WBP included flooded agricultural land, flooded hay, pasture or rangeland, and flooded private forestland.
Joining Hoeven for the roundtable meeting to discuss the recently passed Senate farm bill and the Water Bank Program were ND Barley Council Executive Director Steve Edwardson; Soybean Growers Association President Jason Mewes; Soybean Growers Association Treasurer Harvey Morken; Corn Growers Executive Director Tom Lilja; Grain Growers Executive Director Dan Wogsland; Grain Growers President Brad Thykeson; President/CEO of Black Gold Potatoes Gregg Halverson; Johnstown Bean Company's Jim Karley; a representative from the Red River Valley Sugar Beet Association; Farmers Union District Directors Terry Borstad and Ben Vig; and a representative from the ND Farm Bureau.