WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) — Snowstorms on top of flooding in North Dakota have not yet resulted in many cattle deaths as feared, but lingering cold, wet weather threatens the state’s herd, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said on Tuesday.
Spring temperatures are well below normal in North Dakota, a key U.S. grower of spring wheat and sugarbeets and the No.17 state for cattle production, after south central areas got a fresh dump of snow on Friday.
The U.S. National Weather Service is forecasting another winter storm bringing heavy snow to southwestern North Dakota on Tuesday.
“We have not heard of a big impact yet (but) I think livestock producers are continuing to fight one battle after another,” said Jay Hochhalter, a conservation specialist with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency in the state. “We’re continuing to see rain and snow and flooding almost every day.”
Ranchers are in the midst of calving season, and the young animals are vulnerable to freezing in wet, cold conditions made worse by flooding across pastureland.
North Dakota has 1.7 million cattle, mostly beef cattle, down slightly from 1.72 million in 2010.
The Farm Service Agency administers government farm insurance programs such as one that compensates farmers for livestock deaths related to weather.
Flooding is widespread in North Dakota as snow slowly melts on ground saturated from last year’s rains. It is most severe in the Red River Valley, which extends into Minnesota.
CROP PLANTING DELAYED
The Red has now crested at most points in the United States and is slowly receding, but major flooding is expected to delay crop planting and keep many acres out of production.
Record-high levels on North Dakota’s Devils Lake also threaten to leave farmland idle, said Dale Ihry, a program specialist with the USDA.
The lake is rising from years of excessive rain and snow and is also expanding, Ihry said, taking potential acres for wheat, corn, barley, soybeans and canola out of production.
By later this year, the area around the northeastern North Dakota lake will have 163,450 fewer acres in production than it did in 1993, when the lake started to rise, according to a study by North Dakota State University.
Posted by Haylie Shipp