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South Dakota Governor declares drought state of emergency

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Due to ongoing drought conditions in South Dakota, Governor Dennis Daugaard last week declared a statewide emergency — easing hay and transportation restrictions to assist agriculture producers.

“The drought has really hurt grass and hay production in much of the state, which is making our ag producers scramble to keep livestock fed. I’m hopeful that these changes will help keep livestock on the farm until the drought breaks,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

Effective immediately, farmers and ranchers across the state may cut and bale state highway ditches adjacent to their property. The South Dakota Department of Transportation has suspended their mowing operations until July 5 to allow farmers to access more of the hay along the ditches. The state is also authorizing producers to travel statewide without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to ease transport of feed in the drought stricken area.

With the emergency disaster declaration, federal trucking regulations are waived for the transportation of goods such as hay. Also as part of an emergency declaration, permits are available to allow oversize movement of hay up to 12 feet wide and to extend the time allowed for movement of vehicles from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., provided the load has reflectorized or lighted oversize load signs on the front and back of the vehicle(s).

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows about 80 percent of the state being either abnormally dry or in some stage of drought, up just slightly from last week. About 13 percent of the state is in severe drought.

In addition to cattle feed shortages, the abnormally dry season has caused cropping failures in winter and spring wheat. Corn and soybean fields are coming up slow with some areas experiencing uneven emergence compared to normal years. Pre-emerge herbicides have been less effective with the dry conditions to control weeds.

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