Sen. Jeff Rabon on Friday said Oklahoma ranchers can now apply for Livestock Assistance Grants to offset grazing loss suffered through one of the worst periods of drought in state history, but more must be done to remedy the problems currently facing livestock producers in the state.
It was recently announced the state will receive $6.5 million dollars from the USDA, which will be distributed to producers in all 77 counties who apply for the program. Payment amounts will be calculated using the total number of animal units submitted divided by the $6.5 million received by the state.
“There are nearly 70,000 livestock producers in our state,” said Rabon, D-Hugo. “It’s not only a huge part of our state’s economy but it’s one of the largest industries in the region. $6.5 million doesn’t even register as a drop in the bucket when you consider the expenses associated with feeding that many animals through a drought period.”
Rabon said Congress must acknowledge the severity of the losses facing Oklahoma’s livestock industry, and should adequately fund the program which allows the USDA to distribute grants.
“Our congressional delegation again needs to step forward and take a leadership role on this issue,” Rabon said. “Congress can say they support our agricultural industry, but in a time when help is needed they have been unresponsive and unwilling to show the support. $6.5 million is simply not enough to get the job done when businesses are at stake.”
Rabon said that while individual payments may be small, ranchers should apply for grants and take advantage of whatever aid is available.
Rabon added the possibility of utilizing funds from the state’s current budget surplus of nearly $100 million dollars should be considered if Congress remains unwilling to assist farmers and ranchers in drought stricken areas.
“We have to continue to examine all options to help our farmers and ranchers absorb the losses they’ve faced through this drought,” Rabon said. “There ought to be a sense of urgency on the part of our leaders in Washington and Oklahoma City. If protecting one of our state’s largest industries isn’t enough to get their attention, what is?”