October 28, 2013
High Plains Journal
A call for action by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to address the ongoing drought in southwest Oklahoma and a portion of the Oklahoma Panhandle was greeted with praise by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts.
According to Kim Farber, president of OACD, the call by Fallin to access the Emergency Drought Fund created last spring by the Oklahoma Legislature was a welcome development for farmers and ranchers in those portions of the state still suffering from the record drought.
“Starting in July most of Oklahoma was blessed with rainfall in sufficient levels to reduce the grip that the drought had on our state,” Farber said. “Regrettably, not all of Oklahoma has been fortunate enough to receive the rain necessary to break the drought. Southwestern Oklahoma and parts of the Oklahoma Panhandle in particular have yet to see this kind of rainfall and are in desperate need of assistance. We are very happy that Gov. Fallin has taken this action to help the people and communities in these areas and we are fully in support of her action to access these funds.”
Created last spring through the passage of HB 1923, the Drought Emergency Fund provides funding for drought relief in the form of cost-share dollars for farmers, ranchers and other landowners and grants and loans to communities, rural water districts and fire departments. In addition to the fund, the act also creates the Emergency Drought Commission consisting of the Oklahoma secretary of agriculture, the executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the executive director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. Upon the governor’s call to implement this act, these individuals are charged with making recommendations to the governor for expenditures from the Drought Emergency Fund and to serve as a drought advisory panel for the governor and the various state agencies while the drought emergency exists. Currently, $3 million is available for assistance from the fund.
According to OACD’s Farber, the assistance in the parts of Oklahoma still suffering from drought is definitely needed.
“The call from the governor asks that the state provide drought assistance in Jackson, Tillman, Greer, Harmon and Texas Counties. These are all areas that missed most of the recent rains in our state,” Farber said. “The folks in these counties need help and we in conservation look forward to being part of this effort. We are very appreciative of the action taken by the governor to make this assistance possible.”