‘Critical Fix’ Gives Klamath Irrigators Access to Up to $10 Million in Emergency Drought Relief
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced in a release that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a critically needed fix to the 2018 Water Resources Development Act that would provide relief to Klamath Basin irrigators who have been hard-hit by drought.
The legislation was passed by the Senate in July of this year and is now headed to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
In 2018, the WRDA included language that was essential for irrigators in the Klamath Basin to effectively use $10 million in drought relief funds that the lawmakers had previously secured.
The new bill provides clear flexibility in how the relief may be used, enabling irrigators to access the funding when there is a severe shortage of water.
“Irrigators in the Klamath Basin are enduring another challenging, drought-stricken year, and we need to ensure they have the tools to get through it. We also need to be prepared if our farmers get hit with severe drought conditions in the years ahead,” said Walden. “The Bureau of Reclamation needs the authority to use the funds we already secured to implement measures such as groundwater pumping and other priorities for our irrigators. This bill will ensure the Bureau of Reclamation has that authority for the next four years to help farmers, ranchers, and water users navigate the current water year and survive the difficult water years we may face in the near future.”
“Through drought, the global pandemic, and most recently these unprecedented wildfires, Klamath Basin irrigators have shown they’re committed to working collaboratively with the many water stakeholders in the region, and it is critical that the federal government steps up to be a strong partner to their efforts,” said Merkley. “To ensure that farming and ranching have a strong future in the Basin, we need to get through this drought and work on long-term solutions to our water supply challenges. This fix will help us do that.”
This announcement comes less than three months after Walden brought Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt and Commissioner of Reclamation Brenda Burman to meet with key stakeholders in the Klamath Basin.
“This legislation frees up urgently needed resources for farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin to help survive a 2020 that’s proven incredibly difficult with a brutal combination of drought, wildfires and COVID-19’s economic fallout,” Wyden said. “This bipartisan and collaborative solution takes a solid step forward for the Basin this year that can be built upon in the years ahead to reach a resolution to long-standing water supply challenges.”
Earlier this year, the Trump Administration made good on an April commitment to deliver 140,000 acre feet of water for farmers in the Klamath Basin.
The original language authorized up to $10 million a year for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to work with the farming and ranching community to develop and implement strategies to align water demand with available supply.
This technical correction clarifies the authority for irrigators to access the funds for strategies such as land idling and groundwater pumping in times of drought.
Click here to watch Walden’s remarks on the House Floor.
In The News
WASHINGTON - The Department of Agriculture is offering $55.2 million in competitive grants to help foster healthier beef and poultry industries, while also expanding opportunities for small and midsized processors to grow. The funding follows an announcement by the USDA earlier this month that $4 billion... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Department of Agriculture is funding over $15 million in grant proposals directed at developing and expanding “the use of wood products, strengthening emerging wood energy markets and protecting community forests.” The grants will support 60 individual projects covering an array of initiatives, including... Read More
This article is by Emma Bryce and was originally published by Anthropocene magazine. What would you be willing to pay, to ensure your food came from a farm that doubled up to protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change? That’s the question a group of researchers recently... Read More
Four Midwestern dairy groups who saw their revenues plummet as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have proposed a new pricing plan they hope will create greater long-term stability in fluid milk pricing and reduce the chance of similar income disruptions in the future. The proposal... Read More
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has entered into an interagency agreement with the Forest Service to add up to 600 of its dams to NRCS’s Nationwide DamWatch® system. DamWatch is a web-based application developed to assist with monitoring and managing... Read More
WASHINGTON — Just over a week after he was confirmed as head of the United States Department of Agriculture for the second time, Tom Vilsack doubled down on his efforts to solve both food and nutrition insecurity around the nation. “We need to change the discussion... Read More