The U.S. House is expected to vote today on a disaster relief bill targeting the national drought. The bill could also help Oregon ranchers affected by wildfires who have been unable to get federal aid.
The federal relief programs that help ranchers when they lose cattle or grazing land expired last year. Congress is deadlocked over a 2012 farm bill that would re-start the programs.
Lynn Voigt, Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency in Oregon, describes the new House bill as a stopgap measure. But Voigt says it would make aid available to cover wildfire losses, and ranchers should prepare, in case the measure passes.
“When they’ve lost livestock, it’s important they maintain records on how many head have been lost, and if they can, get verification of that,” Voigt says.
One relief program is currently authorized and will be available to Oregon ranchers shortly: a conservation program that pays for fence building and water hauling after disasters. However, the country’s widespread drought means Oregon ranchers will face stiff competition for that money.
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