Mon, 17 Oct 2022 16:10:54 CDT
Farm Director, KC Sheperd, caught up with Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, Blayne Arthur at the third Emergency Drought Commission meeting and talked about meeting highlights.
Arthur said one concern producers in Oklahoma stressed was the importance of the drought policies being retroactive. Because many producers have already put time and money into drought-related projects, Arthur said the drought commission is flexible and chose to scroll back dollars for individuals in those circumstances.
“The legislature approved 20 million dollars, so we had done 3 million dollars, the drought commission approved another 5 today which leaves 15 million there to be allocated,” Arthur said. “I think the important thing for us is to see how these dollars go out the door, but continue to take public input, because I think we will learn things as time goes on.”
The next step, Arthur said, is watching how the funds move so that in the next meeting, everyone can address how to allocate what is left in the drought relief fund.
Arthur said these dollars are available to all producers in Oklahoma.
“Certainly, to clarify for everyone, if you are a new and beginning farmer, if you are a smaller producer, if you have got 600 head of cattle on feed, then you are eligible for these funds,” Arthur said. “So, we really encourage folks certainly to go to their conservation district offices, but also want to make sure they are going to their FSA office as well too and signing up for any of those programs from USDA.”
Arthur said the majority of what she had heard as far as using the drought relief funds is focused on pond cleanout because there is a delay in having wells drilled.
“I think everyone has seen delays in so many things, especially skilled labor, specific to that,” Arthur said. “The best time to clean out a pond is when we are in a drought, and then we are able to capture so much more of that rainwater and increase that storage capacity for our producers into the future.”
During the meeting, Arthur said, for now, they have decided to table the allocation of funds toward the transportation of hay because there is no cap on the FSA program for hay transport.
“Since there is no cap on that FSA program for hay transport, we want to make sure that those producers get all the funds that they can there through the FSA program,” Arthur said. “I think there is an opportunity for some gaps we are hearing that exist in regard to what the FSA programs can do, but think it’s beneficial for us to take some more time to really analyze that and have the best data available to the Emergency Drought Commission if we decide to move that direction.”
Arthur said she is appreciative of Oklahoma producers coming forward to voice their concerns during this time.
“You know, you can get us on the phone, you can shoot us an email, you can talk to the commodity groups that you are a member of.” Arthur said, “But that is what we want to do is find ways to use these dollars that really benefit producers.”
Click the LISTEN BAR below to listen to KC’s conversation with Secretary Blayne Arthur recapping the third Emergency Drought Commission meeting.