Henry seeks federal aid for farmers and ranchers
CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
Citing extreme weather conditions in Oklahoma over the past 12 months, Gov. Brad Henry has asked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to issue a federal disaster designation in all 77 of Oklahoma’s counties to assist farmers and ranchers.
In a letter sent on November 4 to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, the governor said extreme weather and drought conditions, including heat, dry weather, high winds, stressful moisture conditions and an extreme variance in rainfall conditions have caused serious damage and losses to Oklahoma’s agriculture and ranching industries. The letter noted that summer and fall crops, hay forages, livestock grazing lands, and alfalfa have been particularly hard-hit.
“Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers have endured a very difficult year,” Gov. Henry said. “Extreme and unpredictable weather has taken its toll on Oklahoma’s crops. A federal disaster declaration won’t cover all the losses, but it will offer some relief to our state’s hardworking farmers and ranchers.”
In his letter, the governor asked that the feds authorize the Farm Service Agency to complete damage assessment reports on all Oklahoma counties. The period of extreme weather was from November 1, 2009 to October 31, 2010.
If the disaster declaration is approved, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers will be eligible for low-interest loans to address losses caused by the extreme weather conditions.