Inhofe - Coburn - Lucas Working to Bring Relief to Farmers and Ranchers Suffering from Drought in NW Oklahoma
U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) today sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer in support of an agriculture disaster designation for counties of Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Woodward, Ellis, Roger Mills, Dewey and Woods in Northwestern Oklahoma.
This designation would make farm operators in these counties eligible for low-interest loans through Farm Service Agency's Emergency Loan (EM) Program. A secretarial disaster designation also makes the counties eligible for payments under the Livestock Indemnity Program and Supplemental Crop Revenue Assistance Program, which will be funded through the Permanent Disaster Trust Fund Congress just recently authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
Additionally, this disaster designation makes livestock producers eligible for "involuntary conversion" under the tax code. If a rancher is compelled to sell livestock early due to drought conditions, the tax on the gain from the sale of those animals is allowed to be postponed for one year.
"The Panhandle and Northwestern Oklahoma have experienced severe damage from extremely dry, hot weather and high winds," Senator Inhofe said. "This drought is the worst to hit the area in recent memory. Much of the area has had less than an inch of precipitation over the last 12 months. Texas and Cimarron counties currently have the driest conditions on record for those counties. Farmers and ranchers are struggling, the situation is urgent, and it becomes more so every day. I am committed to continue working to ensure the federal government helps these farmers and ranchers as best it can and as quickly as possible.
"This provision brings vital tax relief to producers struggling and making business decisions under severe drought conditions," Senator Inhofe said. "We need to be doing all we can to provide assistance to these farmers and ranchers in these difficult times and continue to ensure Oklahoma's leadership in agriculture production."
"I am pleased to join Senator Inhofe and Representative Lucas in calling for immediate action by the USDA. Producers in northwest Oklahoma have been hard hit by the drought, and it is imperative that they receive the assistance they are eligible for as soon as possible," said Dr. Coburn.
"We need to pursue every avenue we can to help Oklahoma producers through this drought," stated Lucas. "It is critically important that the Secretary expedite the disaster designation so that the producers can quickly get the assistance they need."