Oklahoma Couple Named as a "Face of the Farm Bill"Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:06:23 CST
In the month of February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is spotlighting the stories of farmers and ranchers who have been helped by the 2014 Farm Law. This week's couple hails from eastern Oklahoma and their story is being seen nationally on the USDA website.
A Oklahoma cattle ranch couple is sharing their story of trials and triumphs. Julie and Robert Carr left Texas 30 years ago to move to Oklahoma to buy a ranch and raise cattle. They started with 80 acres and built up to nearly 600 acres of pasture with 130 cows. Then came the drought, one of the worst in the state's history. Since 2011, the Carr's slowly watched everything they worked for dry up and wither away. With no wells and relying solely on surface water, they were hit hard. Like many Oklahomans, they started selling off their aged cows first, hoping the drought would end. But when they saw there was no end in sight, they made more drastic decisions and ended up selling 60 percent of their herd.
"We had to decide which cow to take to sale and which one to sacrifice in order to save another," said Julie. "We got to the point of praying for rain. When you see pastures turning into nothing and there is nothing you can do, you are helpless."
There was still some income flowing from Julie's consulting business. But the bad continued to get worse when Robert developed lung cancer and Julie needed to give up one career to focus full-time on the ranch and Robert. One day, she took a trip to the Hughes County Farm Service Agency.
"The timing was unique and special," she said. "I often check in with the FSA office, but I thought I was going in to give a report of my hay yields."
Carr was told that with the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, she qualified for disaster assistance through the Livestock Forage Program. The program provides disaster assistance to producers who suffered through snowstorms, tornadoes, drought and other natural disasters and were forced to liquidate herds and sell land to make ends meet.
"I went in to sign the papers and I was told the funds would be deposited into my account, I started to cry," Julie said. "That was everything. It enabled us to keep going and rebuild."
They are now in the rebuilding stage and have purchased cows, sprayed the pasture to help it grow back and hired a worker to help Julie run the ranch.
"There was a crisis and the rural communities were crying in the dark for people to listen," Ellis said. "Someone finally heard. They got it."
In celebrating the first year of the 2014 Farm Bill,USDA is telling how the Farm Bill makes a difference. USDA has started a weekly series of "The Five Faces of the Farm Bill. The stories are meant to capture real-life experiences that help to show the positive impacts of the Farm Bill for families across the country.
Click here for a link to the USDA blog.
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