Oklahoma Ranchers React To Federal Drought Aid

Wednesday, September 27th 2006, 10:12 am
By: News On 6

Help is on the way for eastern Oklahoma cattlemen, but is it enough? Over the next few months, the US Department of Agriculture will distribute $6.5-million in drought relief aid to Oklahoma ranchers.

News on 6 reporter Chris Wright sees what cattlemen think of the federal aid.

$6.5-million for all the ranchers in the third largest cattle producing state in the country might not be a lot, but they say any help is appreciated. It's been a rough year for everybody in the Oklahoma cattle industry. Rancher Clark Victory: "in all my years this has been the worst year in terms of rainfall.”

A record drought has caused all sorts of headaches for cattlemen. "It's caused a lot of people to sell cattle early, change their business, it's changed a lot of things.”

To help ease the pain, the US Department of Agriculture is offering drought relief aid. $50-million for cattlemen nationwide, $6.5-million for those in Oklahoma.

Roy Ball and other officials are fanning out across Oklahoma over the next few days to explain the process. They will also be giving ranchers the guidelines and information they will need to be eligible for the help. OSU extension agent Roy Ball: "Everybody needs to pick up one page form, it's self-explanatory, you fill this out have it notarized, send it back to the Department of Agriculture.”

Ball says the amount of money each rancher will receive depends on how many apply for it. The more that send in the forms, the less money each cattlemen gets. "We're looking at a few dollars per head, it will be some assistance to producers who have been forced to sell pasture or cattle to get through dry weather.”

Ranchers at the Vinita Sale Barn say their trade is a volatile one and they appreciate the help when business is bad. Clark Victory: "it probably won't be a life-saver, but every little bit helps and it's greatly appreciated.”

Drought aid application meetings will be held Thursday at the OSU Extension Office in Okemah. Meetings will also take place in Vinita at the Craig County Courthouse and the Welch Civic Center.

Ranchers will have until November 20th to apply for the drought relief aid.