Blayne Arthur Talks Highlights from the Latest Emergency Drought Commission Meeting

Listen to KC Sheperd talk with Blayne Arthur following the latest Emergency Drought Commission meeting.
Representative Kenton Patzkowsky

Following the latest Oklahoma Emergency Drought Commission meeting, Farm Director KC Sheperd caught up with Ag Secretary Blayne Arthur and talked about the highlights from the meeting.

“Our last meeting was in January, and certainly, we have gotten some moisture across different parts of the state, which we are very excited about, but Trey Lam gave us an update, and there are about eight million dollars that still need to go out the door in the different districts across the state,” Arthur said.

There was plenty of discussion during the meeting, Arthur said, about completing some of those projects for which funds were allocated.

“We know it is still difficult to get some of those wells drilled, so we want to give those extensions there, but on the pond cleanout, if you got rain, which hopefully you did, it makes it a little tough to complete those pond cleanouts,” Arthur said. “Doing some adjustments and hopefully giving some direction to the districts that if folks need to put a timeline on when they might utilize some of those funds, and if they are unable to, then we can move down that list to other producers to really get those dollars out the door.”

While additional funds have not been provided yet, Arthur said the discussions about fund usage were strictly pertaining to the funds that already exist.

Senator Blake “Cowboy” Stephens

“There have been some really positive discussions about additional funds that might be sent to do some work,” Arthur said. “We know certainly in the northwestern part of the state and northcentral part of the state, it is still very dry, and that is just part of living in Oklahoma sometimes, but we have learned a lot through the process working with conservation commission and water resources board, and I think we can look at some opportunities long term to have some programs in place that will hopefully help farmers and ranchers.”

Going forward, Arthur said she would like to see some longer-term solutions that will help mitigate drought.

“If that is different irrigation methods, if that is pond cleanout, water well drilling, I think those things help us long term, and we want to be conscious,” Arthur said. “We never know what the weather is going to be like in Oklahoma, and long-term solutions are going to be important.”

The drought commission started out with 24.5 million dollars to administer, Arthur said, and while the state is grateful for those funds, there are many districts that still have a need for more assistance. Of that 24.5 million dollars, 15.72 million dollars has been spent.

“We see that need, and even today, for a lot of our wheat producers, it is tough,” Arthur said.

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