SD Stockgrowers Applaud Thune’s Drought Data Legislation

SD Stockgrowers Applaud Thune’s Drought Data Legislation   


South Dakota Stockgrowers Association applaud Senator John Thune for introducing the Improved Soil Moisture and Precipitation Monitoring Act of 2018 this week. As the title indicates, the legislation seeks to improve monitoring and consistency of rainfall data used by various USDA agencies in determining eligibility for drought resources, and grazing conditions on federally managed lands.

According to Linda Gilbert, a rancher from Buffalo, “We really appreciate that Senator Thune took the time to meet with producers during his visit to Rapid City, and we are excited to see this legislation. More reporting stations and a consistent method for analyzing it will address one of the big concerns we’ve had data being used by USDA when it comes to our emergency and insurance programs. We thank the Senator for his attention and action on this important issue. This is a huge step in the right direction.”


“It’s great that Senator Thune acted so quickly after we talked with him,” said Mark Tubbs, SD Stockgrowers Director from Edgemont. “The last two years have been a devastating drought for us here in northwest Fall River County,and due to the lack of accurate rainfall data and discrepancies between agencies within USDA, we haven’t been able to collect our drought insurance, or have access to drought disaster programs even during the worst of the drought. I hope that this legislation can help us solve some of the frustrations we’ve had.”

“The ongoing issue of rainfall reporting, and the collection and analysis of rainfall data is a serious issue for farmers and ranchers. We thank Senator Thune for listening and taking our input to put forward a bill that seeks real solutions,”  said Silvia Christen, SD Stockgrowers Executive Director.

According to a press release from Senator John Thune, the Improved Soil Moisture and Precipitation Monitoring Act would:

Grant the secretary of agriculture the discretion to improve soil moisture monitoring by increasing the number of monitoring stations or by utilizing other appropriate cost-effective soil moisture measuring devices;

  • Increase the number of precipitation and soil moisture monitoring stations in any area that has experienced extreme or exceptional drought for any six month period since the beginning of 2016, including South Dakota, and authorizes a $5 million per year appropriation to do so;
  • Require USDA to develop standards to integrate data from citizen scientists and to collect soil moisture data; and
  • Require USDA agencies to use consistent precipitation monitoring data and drought assessment across the programs that USDA administers.