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Agricultural News

Representative Dell Kerbs Sees More Funding for Emergency Drought Commission Possibly Being on Forefront of Upcoming Legislative Session

Fri, 23 Sep 2022 09:39:39 CDT

Representative Dell Kerbs Sees More Funding for Emergency Drought Commission Possibly Being on Forefront of Upcoming Legislative Session Farm Director, KC Sheperd, got the chance to visit with Representative Dell Kerbs of District 26 after the first meeting of the Emergency Drought Commission. Kerbs talks about highlights from the first Emergency Drought Commission meeting.

“A lot of great ideas talking about how to get some immediate relief,” Kerbs said. “The legislative body in this last budget cycle replenished that account, not knowing that we would be depleting that account quite so quicky, but glad that the legislative body did do that on the recommendations of the commission and the producers and those that are representing the producers and the farmers.”

The commission has a big challenge before them, Kerbs said, and some of the big ideas presented during the meeting included pond cleanout and well work. Pond cleanout, he added, is a great activity to take place during a drought when ponds are dry.

Because three million dollars will not fix every problem, Kerbs said he recommends that the commission looks at immediate needs but doesn’t forget about other needs that will need to be met in the future.

“We need to understand exactly what is an immediate and what is a long term (need) for the producers and the farmers and ranchers out there,” Kerbs said.

Getting back into the legislative session soon, he also talked about some additional services that might benefit producers. It is important to Kerbs, he said to listen to Oklahomans and identify what is at the top of everyone’s priority list.

“It is not our first rodeo being in this situation and it is not going to be our last,” Kerbs said. “The more we learn from that and are able to mitigate and take care of these problems and preempt some of this, then we can weather that storm further.”

One problem Kerbs said he is hearing from many producers is that some are having to go as far as two states over to find hay for their livestock.

“Then, when you talk about the inflation prices, you add that onto the product, the hay or the feed or whatever, and the transportation, which is at an all-time high- it is not feasible for a producer to bring that product to,” Kerbs said. “They are having to make hard decisions about their herd and delineating the size of their herd. I hate that any producer has to be in that situation, but we will get through this. It is an absolute challenge. We are Oklahoma strong; we always have been and keep moving through and working through that process.”

Kerbs said while he doesn’t want to speak on behalf of the entire legislative side, there is always the possibility of more funds being made available for drought relief during the legislative session.

“Three million two years ago would have gone a lot further than three million does in today’s dollars,” Kerbs said. “As we look at that and we see what these costs are and things along that line, I think that is obviously going to be on the forefront of the legislative body as we go back into session.”

As for the plan the Oklahoma Conservation Commission discussed during the meeting concerning how the three million should be dispersed, Kerbs said the commission had some good ideas.

Part of the plan proposed by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission during the meeting included $30,000 per conservation district, a 90/10 cost share, and saving some additional funds for the worst areas that had more applications and need a 60-day application process.

“I had a little bit of concern on the cost-sharing on the percentages, so I voiced my concern with that,” Kerbs said. “At the end of the day, if we are talking about a ten-thousand-dollar project, if somebody is willing to give me 60-70 percent of that, I ought to be able to come back in with that 30 to 40 percent. While I appreciate the efforts of the 90/10 percent split, if you can’t weather 30 percent, I think we have got some challenges anyway because this drought is not going away anytime soon, so we really have to look at that and be able to spread those dollars and get the maximum use of that.”

Kerbs also talked about agricultural land leased through the Commissioners of the Land Office as it relates to these drought-related projects.

There is a lot of agricultural land leased through the CLO, Kerbs said, so when it comes to putting a well or permanent structure on those properties, talking with the CLO about committing to the cost share through the drought commission might be a good idea.

Click the LISTEN BAR below to listen to KC Sheperd and Dell Kerbs talking about the next steps for the Emergency Drought Commission to provide drought relief for producers in Oklahoma.



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