Emergency Drought Commission Works to Ensure Drought Relief Needs of Producers are Met

Listen to KC Sheperd talk with Trey Lam about drought relief in Oklahoma.

At the Oklahoma Emergency Drought Commission meeting on Monday, Farm Director KC Sheperd visited with the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Trey Lam, about the meeting highlights and the needs of producers in Oklahoma due to the dry conditions.

“We had over 6,000 applications originally and with the maximum of 7500 dollars per producer,” Lam said. “We still had probably 17 million dollars’ worth of applications that we currently have that we aren’t able to fund.”

Some producers who have not yet been funded, Lam said, have already completed their drought relief projects.

“We are really optimistic that the legislature will provide some funding to clean up those applications, but we are also a little concerned that maybe we need to move some funds from areas where it has rained, where the drought has been relieved, which is east and southeast, especially of the Oklahoma City area,” Lam said.

Lam said there are some districts with up to 100 open applications.

“These are folks that have either spent money or need to get something done,” Lam said. “We would hate to see them not funded, but there is a couple of different ways. One is to move money around, and another is to get another appropriation from the legislature.”

Lam said some districts have already come close to filling the needs of those approved applications. If someone was not able to complete a practice or could not clean a pond out because it had rained and filled up, Lam said those funds could be moved to a conservation district with a large waiting list or individuals who still do not have available water.

“This drought was so unusual in the sense that there were some areas in northeastern Oklahoma that we never think about drought, that had over 100 applications that were really, really dry,” Lam said. “There are some of those areas in northern Nowata County that are still really dry right now. Some of those people went ahead and cleaned out ponds, and through the flexibility of this program, we can pay for those retroactively. We hate to see those people that have already spent the money miss out on that opportunity to get paid.”

ODAFF released the following Information:

The Emergency Drought Commission met Monday and provided further guidance to producers who have been approved for pond clean out through the Emergency Drought Cost-Share Program.

Those approved producers who have not completed their pond clean out by June 1, 2023, will be contacted by their local conservation district to alert them that they have 45 days to complete the pond clean out project. Pond clean out projects that require water to be pumped out of the pond are allowed.

No new applications are being accepted by local conservation districts for the Emergency Drought Cost-Share Program at this time.

All actions of the Commission are pending approval by Governor Kevin Stitt. 

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