On Tuesday, Senators Jeff Merkely, Ron Wyden and Governor Kate Brown announced the USDA will provide access to emergency conservation service grants to farmers impacted by the recent Substation, Boxcar, and Jackknife wildfires.  Merkley said this assistance is a step toward recovery for those that have lost crops to fire.


“While we need significant funding for recovery beyond the usual crop insurance or disaster assistance, conservation treatments will help restore land in the aftermath of this devastation. I will continue to work with my colleagues to push for the emergency aid our farmers and ranchers need.”


Wyden, Merkley, and Brown started working with the USDA on July 20, seeking help for farmers and ranchers impacted by the deadly fire.  They also noted that wheat is a top-10 commodity in Oregon, valued at nearly $186 million.  This year’s wildfires are expected to have a significant impact on the statewide economy.


“This federal aid is a must to help the farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods have been devastated by this year’s destructive wildfires,” Wyden said. “This assistance represents an important piece of the response to help in the wake of this emergency, and I will continue to press federal officials for all the resources needed to help these businesses in Wasco and Sherman counties.”


“Oregon’s wildfire season started weeks earlier than usual and has already devastated many communities,”Brown said. “I’m making state resources available to impacted families and businesses, and additional federal assistance will provide much welcomed relief to Oregon farmers.”


The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service assistance will help farmers and ranchers offset the cost of critical post-fire conservation treatments, which combat soil erosion, restore vegetative ground cover, and control the spread of invasive annual grasses such as cheatgrass and medusahead, which are prone to increase after a fire.


Applications must be submitted by Friday, Aug. 10.  Conservation activities include planting range grasses and cover crops to protect damaged soil; spraying herbicides for weed control; prescribed grazing; obstruction removal, and more.


Landowners may apply at the USDA service center in The Dalles (2325 River Road in The Dalles) or the UDSA Moro Service Center (302 Scott Ave in Moro). Applicants may also contact Clinton Whitten, soil conservationist, at 541-289-8559 x112, and visit the Oregon EQIP website to download an application and for more information.



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