Late summer, early fall seems to be meeting time in the legislative world. Schools are back in full force, and activity has really picked up. The good news is that there may be some funding available to restore some medical facilities in rural areas. I have met with health care officials as well as Latimer County commissioners about the possibility of getting some type of emergency facility open in Wilburton. This has been a goal of mine since being elected four years ago. Hopefully some progress is being made in this area.
I also have attended one of Farm Bureau’s area meetings, meeting with boards of directors from numerous counties in southeast Oklahoma listening to what is important to them in the world of agriculture. I believe one of the most important things on everyone’s mine is the effects of our current drought. We are faced with no grass in our pastures along with limited availability of hay. I worry about the long-term effect on our beef supply when this current crisis is over.
We did get some information last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) that they are now accepting applications for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. This will provide assistance to eligible livestock producers for 2022 who have experienced grazing losses due to a qualifying drought or wildfire.
The deadline to apply is Jan. 30, 2023.
To date, 64 Oklahoma counties, including Latimer and Pittsburg, have met the drought severity levels that trigger this eligibility.
Also available through the USDA is emergency assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish program. This assistance covers above-normal costs associated with hauling water to livestock and transporting feed to livestock or transporting livestock to forage or other grazing acres. Non-insured crop disaster assistance also is available.
FSA also offers farm and emergency loans to those who may be unable to secure commercial financing.
More information about this assistance can be found online at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/livestock-forage/index; additional information about FSA can be found at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/index.
Jim Grego serves District 17 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes Latimer County and parts of LeFlore and Pittsburg counties.