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Published July 05, 2012, 02:35 PM

Farmers With Flooded Fields to Get Federal Help

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Lake Region farmers will finally get some relief for their flooded fields. Millions of federal dollars have been made available through the Water Bank program. It pays farmers for ten years to protect their water-logged fields as wetlands.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Lake Region farmers will finally get some relief for their flooded fields.

Millions of federal dollars have been made available through the Water Bank program. It pays farmers for ten years to protect their water-logged fields as wetlands.

Joe Rysavy's farmland has been in the family for more than 80 years, but he's been unable to put it to use since 1993.

"It was land that was just sitting there getting no payments at all," Rysavy said.

More than half of his land is under water and other federal programs wouldn't cover all of his land. There was nothing he could do until this year, when the Water Bank program was re-instated.

"It's an annual payment the producers will receive. It's kind of to give them some benefit for that cropland that they lost," Paul Thompson with the National Resources Conservation Service said.

$5.6 million has been made available for North Dakota farmers, 75 percent of that is earmarked for the Lake Region.

The Water Bank program does help, but not everyone was able to receive that help. Around 100 farmers applied to be part of the program in Ramsey County but only 30 qualified.

The program pays farmers between $35 and $50 per acre, but Rysavy lowered his asking price to ensure he got benefits.

"What they offered, and I took 15 percent less to gain points so I'd score," Rysavy said.

He will get $37 an acre for 117 acres of land each year for the next decade.

"I have money to pay taxes on the land that didn't have no productivity. I'm really lucky to get into the program," Rysavy said.

The goal of the program is to pay farmers until the wet cycle ends.

"We're able to help compensate a little bit for that and hopefully we'll be able to bring it back into production within 10 years," Thompson said.

"My hope is that my grandchildren will someday be able to farm it," Rysavy said.

The Water Bank program was created in the 1980s, but was gradually phased out.

It was re-introduced to help farmers specifically in the Devils Lake Basin.

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