High Plains suffer through drought
"It’s going to affect bread at the grocery store counter," Goehring said, though he didn’t put a figure on how much costs might go up for shoppers.
The latest Drought Monitor map shows nearly all of western North Dakota in severe or extreme drought, conditions that extend into northern South Dakota and northeastern Montana.
Weinand figures his wheat crop will be half what it usually is.
The Martins have sold off about one-third of their cattle because the grass in their pastures is brown and brittle and they’ve already started dipping into winter hay reserves.
"What we’re trying to do is hold onto our main cow herd, get through the year, and hopefully next year is better," Martin said.
The Agriculture Department has authorized other aid, including forage disaster payments and emergency haying and grazing of land enrolled in conservation and wetland programs.
That helps, but doesn’t cover everything, Goehring said.
Neither does crop insurance, which pays only a portion of what a farmer would get by selling a typical crop, said Goehring, who in addition to heading the state Agriculture Department is a farmer who has worked in the insurance industry.
The demand has pushed prices to as much as double the normal cost.
"We’ll make it through," Martin said.