Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order on Friday declaring a drought disaster in 31 counties and six Indian Reservations.
According to a press release, a widespread drought in eastern and central Montana has caused significant injury to crops including livestock forage.
The effects are imposing economic hardships on many farmers and ranchers. "High temperatures, extreme drought, and worsening fire conditions are affecting Montanans in many corners of our state," Governor Bullock said.
"We're doing everything we can to minimize the economic impact of these hot and dry conditions and help folks get back on their feet using all resources available."
The order includes the following counties and reservations: Blaine, Big Horn, Carter, Choteau, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Garfield, Golden Valley, Hill, Judith Basin, Lake, Lincoln, McCone, Musselshell, Petroleum, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sanders, Sheridan, Treasure, Valley, Yellowstone, Wheatland, Wibaux Counties, and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, Crow Indian Reservation, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, and the Flathead Indian Reservation.
This drought disaster declaration continues the temporary suspension of "hours of service" regulations and waives temporary registration, temporary fuel permits, and over-dimensional permit requirements for commercial vehicles providing support for the drought.
The declaration also compels maximum employee assistance and cooperation with the United States Departments' of Agriculture and Commerce to secure timely economic assistance.
As of July 10, 2017, small nonfarm businesses in 16 Montana counties are eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration after Governor Bullock sent a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting a Secretarial Drought Disaster Designation. Affected counties and reservations are also eligible for the Livestock Forage Program.
Back in July neighbors North and South Dakota proclaimed a statewide fire and drought emergency as extreme drought and late frost has destroyed millions of dollars in crops.
Drought conditions and high winds have created a fire emergency in North Dakota.
The U.S. Drought Monitor report released last week showed 8 percent of the state in extreme drought, 32 percent in severe drought, 27 percent in moderate drought and 33 percent abnormally dry. The conditions have increased the fire risk for North Dakota, with 30 counties issuing emergency declarations, burn bans or other fire restrictions so far.