Governor Mary Fallin has received a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stating emergency loans are available to livestock producers in six Oklahoma counties where recent wildfires caused significant damage.
The letter, by USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young, states that eligible livestock producers in Alfalfa, Beaver, Ellis, Harper, Roger Mills and Woodward counties along with contiguous counties may apply for emergency loan assistance.
Emergency loans help producers who sustain qualifying farm-related losses directly caused by the wildfires. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of an Administrator’s Physical Loss Notification to apply for this assistance.
In addition, Young wrote that eligible livestock producers may receive partial payments to help pay for rebuilding fence or replacing other items destroyed by the recent Oklahoma wildfires.
Normally, producers would have to wait until the work is completed to receive payment. Because some producers had more than 100 miles of fencing destroyed, it would be a financial hardship to wait until the rebuilding of fence is completed.
Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funding may also be used for debris removal and restoring conservation structures damaged by wildfires. The USDA is also allowing the use of used oil piping for fence construction.
Young wrote in his letter that the Farm Services Agency (FSA) understands the financial burdens imposed on livestock producers due to the wildfires, “and it will use all available authorities to provide financial assistance to producers to rebuild fences and other conservation structures as quickly as possible.”
In addition to ECP, farmers and ranchers suffering from the aftermath of the wildfires may also be eligible for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) or the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). LIP provides payments to producers for livestock deaths. ELAP provides emergency relief to livestock producers when losses from a disaster are not adequately covered by any other disaster program.
In addition, Oklahoma producers affected by recent wildfires are being allowed to let their livestock graze on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage, Young wrote.
The FSA has authorized emergency use of CRP acreage, which will allow producers to move their livestock to CRP acreage for a period of up to 30 days for six counties in Oklahoma. The counties are Alfalfa, Beaver, Ellis, Harper, Roger Mills and Woodward.
Emergency use of CRP acreage allows livestock to be moved to those lands on a temporary basis for producers who lost pasture or fences due to the wildfires.
Producers in the affected counties are encouraged to check with their local FSA state office for additional information.