Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today released the following statement after the USDA announced that farmers in Klamath, Jackson, Deschutes, and Lake counties will be eligible for disaster assistance programs to help relieve the impact of their losses due to the drought that continues to affect the region.
On March 18, Rep. Walden sent a letter to the USDA asking the USDA to issue a drought declaration to make emergency funds and aid programs available to farmers, ranchers and small businesses dealing with the drought. That letter is attached.
"The USDA did the right thing in responding to the bipartisan calls for extra help for the farmers and ranchers that are facing the greatest water challenge since the 2001 water shut-off," Rep. Walden said. "I've stayed deeply involved with the Klamath Basin community since 2001 when the government turned off the spigot. I've seen firsthand its devastating impact on the farmers, ranchers and small businesses that are the economic engines in these rural communities. We must work to get water certainty for the Basin that is predictable regardless of the water year. Meanwhile, we must continue to provide the emergency support that our farmers and ranchers need."
According to the USDA, all qualified farm operators in the designated counties are eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.
FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
Representative Greg Walden is the House Republican Leadership Chairman and represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which is comprised of 20 counties in eastern, southern, and central Oregon.