2017 is shaping up to be a drought year in South Dakota. In response to the effects of drought conditions, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has declared a statewide emergency.

Eairler this month (June 2017) the Daugaard activated the State Drought Taskforce to coordinate information gathering among state agencies and other ag and resource entities.

According to the latest from the U.S. Drought Monitor western, south central and eastern parts of South Dakota suffer from abnormally dry conditions. Moderate and severe drought conditions can be found in central, north central and western South Dakota.

The State of Emergency includes easing haying and transportation restrictions.

“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,” Daugaard said in a press release.

Some provisions of the emergency drought disaster declaration:

  • 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. SDDOT will continue to mow in urban areas. Mowing in the medians of divided four-lane highways is prohibited and a permit is still required for mowing interstate right-of-ways
  • The state is authorizing producers to travel statewide without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to ease transport of feed in drought areas
  • Federal trucking regulations are waived for the transportation of goods such as hay. FMCSA regulations ranging from 390-399 are waived for the next 30 days. Those include general regulations, driving training regulations, special driving considerations, parts and accessories, medical cards, hours of service, and proof of annual inspections.
  • Permits are available to allow oversize movement of hay

For more information on state highway ditch mowing, call Greg Fuller, SDDOT director of operations at 605-773-3256.

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