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    North Dakota governor asks for new federal help amid drought

    Riley Schriefer, left, asks a question of Gov. Doug Burgum at a town hall meeting in Golden Valley, N.D., in July.
    Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via Associated Press
    Riley Schriefer, left, asks a question of Gov. Doug Burgum at a town hall meeting in Golden Valley, N.D., in July.

    BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is seeking a presidential disaster declaration, saying the state is ‘‘the epicenter of drought for the nation’’ because of a rain-free summer.

    Burgum said in a statement Monday night that his request to President Trump would be sent via the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regional office. A presidential declaration would pave the way for direct federal disaster payments to farmers who are facing the prospect of little or no crops and to ranchers who have nothing to feed the cattle they haven’t sold off.

    The latest US Drought Monitor map shows 82 percent of North Dakota in some stage of drought. Most of central and western North Dakota remains in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst categories.

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    ‘‘Our state climatologist . . . indicated North Dakota has reached the D4 (exceptional) category only two times in the last 100 years,’’ Burgum said in his letter to Trump.

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    The governor also is asking for federal agencies including the Agriculture Department to help drought-stricken producers through aid programs.

    State climatologist Adnan Akyuz, a professor of climatological practice at North Dakota State University, said there is no simple explanation for the drought. There are a variety of factors, including less moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico and the jet stream staying farther to the north, Akyuz said.