Sen. Jeff Rabon on Thursday applauded Gov. Brad Henry’s call for President Bush to make available funding for federal livestock assistance programs to aid Oklahoma farmers and ranchers facing financial hardships as a result of drought conditions.
In an August 2 letter to Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation and Governor Brad Henry, Rabon requested the program be funded in order to provide immediate aid to farmers and producers in all 77 counties. A disaster declaration authorized by USDA Secretary Mike Johanns has made available loans to Oklahoma farmers, but additional relief is necessary to assist farmers, who in many cases have lost entire crops and cannot meet the increased costs of feed and hay to compensate for parched grazing lands, Rabon said.
“I’m pleased the Governor has joined the effort to make this program available to our farmers who cannot afford further delay,” said Rabon, D-Hugo. “We must do everything we can to inform leaders in Washington of the dire conditions faced by Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.”
Rabon explained the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003 made livestock assistance payments available to farmers in drought stricken areas. In 2005, Rabon noted, over 90 percent of farmers and ranchers in Wyoming had received livestock assistance payments for grazing losses suffered through droughts in 2003 and 2004.
“Given that drought conditions are the worst seen in Oklahoma since the dust bowl, there has never been a more appropriate time for a program like this to serve its purpose,” Rabon said. “I will continue to call upon members of Oklahoma’s Congressional Delegation to demand that this program receive the necessary funding to help Oklahoma producers with as little delay as possible.”
Heightening national awareness of the dire conditions facing the state, Rabon said, will help result in prompt action from Congress.
“I encourage all Oklahomans, particularly farmers and ranchers, to call upon our Congressmen and Senators and urge them to take a leadership role on this issue,” Rabon said. “We cannot allow Congress to ignore the conditions we currently face, and we must continue to demand that this program be adequately funded. Cattle production in western Oklahoma represents one of the largest industries in the entire region, and at the current rate, many operations are being placed in jeopardy without sufficient assistance from the federal government.”