Producer’s impacted by 2012 wildfires are encouraged to apply.

(July 8, 2013 – Salem, OR) The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) announces applications are now available for the distribution of funds to ranchers affected by wildfires in Oregon. The 2012 wildfires burned over one million acres in Oregon and the devastation significantly threatens economic viability of communities in the southeast of the state. Applications are available online at http://orcattle.com/news/current-issues/restore.htmlor by contacting the OCA office at (503) 361-8941 or oca@orcattle.com, and must be postmarked for submission by July 31, 2013. Applications will also be disseminated to county livestock associations, local Farm Service Agency (FSA), Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), County Commission and OSU Extension Service offices.

In July of 2012, Harney and Malheur counties were recognized by the state and federal government as disaster areas creating an economic emergency due to drought and wildfires. Last September, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) submitted a request to Oregon’s Emergency Board for funds that will aid in the economic recovery of areas affected by the wildfires in southeast Oregon. ODA was granted $50,000 for these efforts and was later matched by Governor Kitzhaber’s Strategic Reserve Fund on May 8, 2013. The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has been designated as the lead entity to facilitate the distribution of the totaled $100,000 in wildfire recovery assistance funding.

This year declarations of drought have already been expanded to include many other counties in the state. “The assistance comes at a crucial time, with ranchers facing exponentially higher feed bills due to current drought conditions paired with previous wildfire impacts. While we know demand for wildfire assistance far exceeds supply, we feel privileged in the opportunity to provide the available aid with hopes of softening the blow enough to keep them in business.” commented Curtis Martin, President of the OCA.

The Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Station will receive $30,000 of the funds to study wildfire prevention on Oregon rangelands. A program has been developed that will disperse the remaining $70,000 to owners of property damaged. OCA Executive Director Kay Teisl states “In addition to financial assistance, a significant need exists for research regarding long-term restoration of rangelands that supports both wildlife inhabitance and livestock production. Prevention measures in terms of fuel load management, rural fire district support, and enhanced communications are also crucial to effectively avoiding such devastating events.” Since the 2012 wildfires several rural fire districts have been initiated. The OCA is working to inspire more proactive efforts like this for future fire prevention.