Oklahoma’s drought relief cost-share program accepting applications

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order on Sept. 12 to use the Emergency Drought Relief Fund, which contains $3 million. The commission that was formed to determine how the money should be utilized met on Sept. 30 and unanimously approved a program proposed by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

On Oct. 3, commissioners with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission voted to approve the program and provided details for producers to sign up for benefits. This program will allocate funds through a cost-share program, which will be available to all 77 counties and will be distributed through local conservation districts.

Projects included in the program include the following: water well drilling, pumping facilities, pipeline, pasture tap, watering facilities, heavy use protection, cover crop planting, forage and biomass planting excluding bermuda grass, and pond clean out.

“The emergency drought cost-share program will allow these funds to be distributed in a way that allows for each district to use the funds to best address the needs of the farmers and ranchers in the local area,” said Blayne Arthur, secretary of agriculture and Emergency Drought Commission chair. “I am confident in the program and its ability to help Oklahoma producers now and into the future.”

Each county will be allocated $33,000 in relief dollars, with some funds reserved to districts with the more severe drought conditions. The cost-share max per contract will be 80% of the maximum payment, and not to exceed $7,500 per project. Applicants will have to certify drought conditions exist on individual properties.

The program is now open and will close Dec. 2. The conservation districts are expected to make decisions on the applications in early November and they hope to start individual projects mid-November. For more information on applying for the program, contact your local conservation district office.

Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected]