- Associated Press - Friday, July 21, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - State and federal aid is increasing for North Dakota farmers and ranchers dealing with drought.

The federal Agriculture Department has authorized haying and grazing on additional Conservation Reserve Program acres in portions of not only North Dakota but also South Dakota and Montana.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue cites “epic dry conditions” for the move.

The federal government also is increasing staffing at Farm Service Agency offices in North Dakota to help with aid requests.

North Dakota’s Water Commission also has authorized more money for the state’s Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply cost-share program. The state has now committed $825,000.

Almost all of western North Dakota is in severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

The federal government has declared numerous counties in the three-state region to be disaster areas.

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