A state commission has decided to extend a $3 million relief fund across Oklahoma to help farmers and ranchers during a worsening drought. The governor has announced an additional $20 million to help.
A three-member emergency drought committee voted this week to allocate $33,000 to each of the state’s 77 counties, with individual farmers and ranchers eligible to receive up to $7,500.
The program aims to cover most of the costs associated with drought relief projects, but individuals are expected to donate up to 20% of their money.
Eligible projects include well drilling, new pumping facilities and pipelines, and dry pond cleaning.
more:Oklahoma ranchers seek state relief as drought worsens
The Oklahoma Conservation Commission oversees the disbursement of funds through local reserves.
“The Emergency Drought Cost-Sharing Program will allow these funds to be distributed so that each district can best use the funds to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers in their local communities. Agriculture and Emergency Drought Commission chairman.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that would send an additional $20 million to the emergency fund.
“This year’s extreme drought has created unprecedented challenges for farmers. As governor, I will always do everything I can to support Oklahoma’s great farmers and ranchers,” Stitt said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Congress to provide this much-needed relief.”
According to the US Drought Monitor report, much of Oklahoma is experiencing severe drought. Dry conditions reduced access to hay and pasture for cattle, dried up ponds, and forced some ranchers to sell their herds prematurely.
“[The drought]was a holdover from last fall and winter that lasted into the spring and then really squashed in the summer,” said a district commissioner for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and a Pittsburgh County rancher. One Gary Crowley said.
“There’s one spot that’s completely dry. No grass, nothing. It’s like a desert.”
The funds will be distributed by December 2, according to the commission.
Remaining funds will be transferred to areas of the state with the worst drought conditions.
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