USDA announces $15 million for Klamath River Basin drought assistance

The Agriculture Department on Monday announced a $15 million for a new drought pilot program to assist agricultural producers in California and Oregon impacted by worsening drought conditions in the Klamath River Basin.

The announcement came as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to the state today for events focused on drought and wildfire resiliency.

“As ongoing drought conditions in the West continue to worsen, we need to find ways to do things differently in order to provide help and assistance to producers, Tribes, and communities,” said Gloria Montaño Greene, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for farm production and conservation.

“We recognize that current USDA programs and services are not enough to meet this historic challenge, and this pilot will help us find more tools to add to our toolbox.”

The Klamath Project’s “A” Canal will remain closed this year because of a lack of water supply, USDA said. The canal, a major component of the Klamath Project, typically provides access to Upper Klamath Lake, supplying water for over 200,000 acres of farmland.

The block grant to the Klamath River Drought Response Agency (Klamath DRA) will provide payments to producers to reduce irrigation demand. This will assist in allowing the limited supply of water to be used for other practices that are vital to the region’s food supply and to reduce adverse impacts to producers in the region and supply and distribution chains. Producers will apply for funding through the Klamath DRA.

USDA will evaluate the outcomes to help inform future program design and will continue to monitor basins and drought conditions to determine where additional may best provide immediate economic support and relief to producers, USDA said.

–The Hagstrom Report

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