Emergency loans are now available for Oklahoma ranchers and farmers devastated by a brutal season of both wildfires and severe drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared the entire state of Oklahoma a disaster area.
As News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin explains, for many, this help could be the difference between barely getting by and losing everything they have.
Roseann Lobser of rural Broken Arrow has been a rancher for 45 years. Horses are not only her business; they're part of her family. "They're so beautiful when they run." But the same drought that's left farmers for months with dry dirt and wilted crops is putting Lobser's livelihood in jeopardy. "Well as you can see, the pastures are down to nothing."
With nearly 30 horses on the property, she had to start buying hay several months earlier than usual. At the same time, hay farmers had practically nothing to cut. The combination started a domino effect last summer that's still hitting both where it hurts. "Unless we get some good rain, I really don't know what we're gonna do.â€
But experts say even a good spring rain likely won't be enough to save this year's crops. For ranchers like Lobser that means not only is the price of hay skyrocketing, her distributor could run out. "I've already bought the last bales that my local hay man has and what happens when the local people are out of hay, what are we gonna do?"
If it's not going to rain down water from the sky, ranchers hope for the next best thing, a flood of cash. Low interest federal loans could help. Eligible farmers and ranchers can use the money for essential operating and living costs.
Lobser hopes she's on the list, deep in debt; she's refinancing her home to keep the business afloat and the horses in hay. â€œAll because of the weather.â€
To be eligible for a Farm Service Agency loan you must have suffered loses as a direct result of the drought or wildfires and be unable to get credit from another source. For more information call your local FSA office.