‘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
A new White House council on U.S. economic conditions plans to hold its first meeting Friday, with participants to highlight... Read More
A new White House council on U.S. economic conditions plans to hold its first meeting Friday, with participants to highlight at least 18 actions taken to help consumers and potentially lower prices. The council, an outgrowth of a July executive order by President Joe Biden, is... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The United States Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday it would begin issuing new grant program applications for... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The United States Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday it would begin issuing new grant program applications for agricultural stakeholders funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Small businesses in certain commodity areas will be able to apply for both the “Pandemic Response... Read More
FIREBAUGH, Calif. (AP) — As temperatures recently reached triple digits, farmer Joe Del Bosque inspected the almonds in his parched... Read More
FIREBAUGH, Calif. (AP) — As temperatures recently reached triple digits, farmer Joe Del Bosque inspected the almonds in his parched orchard in California's agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, where a deepening drought threatens one of the state's most profitable crops. Del Bosque doesn't have enough water to... Read More
The California Farm Confinement Proposition, known as Prop 12, is set to become effective next year and could mean that... Read More
The California Farm Confinement Proposition, known as Prop 12, is set to become effective next year and could mean that pork suppliers lose access to California’s large market. The law will implement space requirements for chickens, calves, and hogs, such as retrofitting buildings, and will also... Read More
America’s farmers are feeling the sobering pinch of weakened principal crop prices, but nevertheless remain cautiously optimistic about the financial... Read More
America’s farmers are feeling the sobering pinch of weakened principal crop prices, but nevertheless remain cautiously optimistic about the financial conditions of their farms, a just- released industry barometer has found. According to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer farmer sentiment leveled off in July... Read More
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved $14 million in investments Wednesday to fund 31 research projects dedicated to... Read More
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved $14 million in investments Wednesday to fund 31 research projects dedicated to disease prevention in agricultural livestock. The funding comes as a part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which was established... Read More