Drought declaration providing help for farmers
By Roma Villavicencio
Eagle Point, Ore. — Farmer Ron Bjork has called his ranch home for decades. That long-standing ownership gives him water rights to Little Butte Creek. But Bjork said others aren’t so lucky.
“It could be a pretty tough year,” he said.
But now help is on the way for Jackson County. On Tuesday, Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a drought state of emergency.
Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said, “It will provide relief for some ground water, access to some wells that we didn’t have before and access to the Rogue River water for irrigation for agricultural purposes.”
And it’s been a tough year already with some of the driest condition is nearly 100 years.
Breidenthal said water from the Rogue River and other area wells will be freed up to help more people thanks to the drought declaration.
He said it will also provide financial help from the Farm Service Agency.
“The ability to get loans from federal government to offset their losses and carry them forward in the event that their crops failed due to the lack of water or they loss of any animals.”
Bjork said he won’t need to ask for the money but many others in the area will. With drought affecting prices for critical supplies too, like hay.
“We import a lot of hay from Klamath to Jackson County and from what I understand they are going to be really tight this year,” said Bjork.
And for now Bjork is thankful his farm is green and for the help on the way for his farmer friends.
Breidenthal also said water levels at lakes like Applegate and Emmigrant will get lower fast, so recreation will also take a hit.