Carl's Capitol Comments
September 21, 2022
The governor last week issued an executive order to release up to $3 million for drought relief to farmers and ranchers in Western Oklahoma and other parts of the state that qualify.
The funds were moved from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board into the state's Emergency Drought Relief Fund this session through legislation that I and Sen. Casey Murdock shepherded through the House and Senate.
The $3 million is just a start to offer some immediate relief to those experiencing the worst of the drought, particularly those in Western Oklahoma and the Panhandle.
I'm thankful to the governor for taking this emergency action. This funding will give farmers and ranchers the ability to drill wells, build ponds or find other ways to collect water, so they can get relief to their animals and for their crops as quickly as possible. It will also help with transporting feed and other necessities during this drought.
When I presented House Bill 2959 on the House floor, I was asked about long-term conservation efforts to address issues that seem too often to plague our portion of the state. I'm thankful we do have some conservation efforts in place, otherwise I think the Panhandle would have reverted to Dust Bowl status long ago. But we do need to always be looking toward future and sustained efforts as well.
The governor's executive order established an Emergency Drought Commission that will be have the authority to consider requests for the use of the $3 million from the Emergency Drought Relief Fund. The fund was created in 2013 to provide funding for emergency drought relief activities once a drought emergency has been declared. Funds must be expended solely on efforts to relieve drought conditions. This state funding is in addition to millions of dollars in funding available to Oklahoma ag producers through federal Farm Service Agency programs.
The Oklahoma Emergency Drought Commission is to consist of Oklahoma Conservation Commission Executive Director Trey Lam, Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director Julie Cunningham and Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, who will serve as its chair. Arthur said they will work quickly to get the funds where they are most needed. The commission will exist as long as there is a declared drought emergency, under the terms of the order.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me. You may reach me by email at [email protected], or phone me at 405-557-7339. God bless you and the State of Oklahoma.