Cost-Share Program Proposal Unanimously Approved by Commissioners of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission
Oklahoma City – Today, Oct. 3, 2022, in their regular meeting, Commissioners of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission unanimously approved a program in which emergency drought cost-share funds are being made available to all 77 Oklahoma counties via distribution by local Conservation Districts.
Implementation of the program through the state’s 84 Conservation Districts is set to begin in the upcoming days.
Projects included in the program are water well drilling, pumping facilities, pipeline, pasture tap, watering facilities, heavy use Area protection, cover crop planting, forage and biomass planting (excluding Bermuda grass) and pond clean out.
On Friday, Sep. 30. 2022, the Emergency Drought Commission (EDC) — Blayne Arthur, Julie Cunningham and Trey Lam — met Friday and unanimously approved a program proposed by the OCC which will distribute the $3 million appropriated by the State Legislature and approved by Governor Stitt in House Bill 2959 to Oklahoma ag producers.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Report showed just under 100 percent of the state (99.88) in Moderate to Exceptional Drought, including 94 percent in Severe to Exceptional drought.
Gary Crawley is the Area V Commissioner for OCC, the OCC Commission Chair and a producer in Savanna (about 10 miles southwest of McAlester) in Pittsburg County. The bulk of his area is in Extreme to Exceptional drought.
“It started when the hay was short, then the grass was depleted and now the ponds are dry or down to puddles,” Crawley said Monday. “It’s actually a carryover from last fall and winter and then it lingered into spring and really clamped down on us in the summer. The liquidation of the cattle herds is so tough. I’ve got one place that is completely dry, there’s no grass, no nothing, it looks like a desert. Producers are feeling this throughout Oklahoma and we are confident that this program will help bring some short and long-term relief.”
Blayne Arthur, Secretary of Agriculture and EDC Chair, has shared her confidence in the program as well: “The emergency drought cost-share program will allow these funds to be distributed in a way that allows for each district to use the funds to best address the needs of the farmers and ranchers in the local area.”
Julie Cunningham, Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director, said “We are committed to putting the funds to use as quickly as possible” and the OCC and District staff are prepared to work diligently to ensure help arrives to those in need across the state.
“The Oklahoma Conservation Commission continues to be inspired by how our farmers and ranchers have come together to mitigate the disastrous impacts of Oklahoma’s drought,” said Trey Lam, Oklahoma Conservation Commission Executive Director. “I appreciate the leadership of Secretary Arthur and Executive Director Cunningham in tackling these difficult issues.”
Following are more details on this program:
Size of program: Allocate $33,000 to each County (not District) – hold back reserve to be allocated to Districts with greatest demand.
Cost share rate: Maximum 80%
Maximum payment: Not to exceed $7,500
Projected Timeline of Program: Guidelines were approved in the Oct. 3, 2022 Conservation Commission meeting initiating the start of the program.
Conservation Districts receive program guidelines and training Oct. 3-4, 2022 and then will begin implementation.
Overall Program Start Date – Oct. 3, 2022 (Guidelines approved at Commission meeting)
Allocation Period: Oct. 3 – Dec. 2, 2022
- Certify drought conditions exist on individual properties – Review/Rank Applications – Select Applicants – 60 days
- Establish Completion Deadline and Develop Extension Protocol
Implement Practices: Begins no later than Dec. 2, 2022. Program will be completed by Dec. 2, 2023.
Reallocate any remaining funds to Districts with highest demand: No later than Dec. 12, 2022
In the upcoming days, producers can contact their local Conservation District for more information on the program: To find your local Conservation District, please go to https://conservation.ok.gov/conservation-district-directory/