State Ag Secretary addresses county ranchers
To the editor:
Since our Emergency Response Team departed Boise City on January 8 after four days of coordinating air drops of hay, we have done our best to keep in touch with the ranchers and community leaders who helped us locate the livestock that needed emergency hay deliveries during the Cimarron county Ranch Rescue effort.
This crisis was unfortunate but, on the positive side, it has resulted in some very strong ties between the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry and the citizens of the county.
Last week as I touched base with producers we had worked with, I was gratified to learn that almost each one I spoke with was not only getting their stock taken care of, they were either at or heading for the stock show. Still, we realize there are some producers in the affected area who are struggling financially and, in some cases, still having difficulty in digging out hay bales and keeping water available.
To those so affected let me assure you that we are continuing to report your troubles to Congress and are optimistic that some form of disaster assistance will ultimately be provided.
As you read this, we are also asking about the possibility of an exemption which would allow state-owned resources to be used on privately owned lands during emergency conditions. This is an extremely sensitive issue as many county and state officials have found over the years.
Coming to Cimarron County immediately after the New Year made me think back to the hardships of last year's historic fire season that claimed over 850,000 acres and nearly 400 homes and structures. We were unable to provide any form of livestock relief during that period and found ourselves limited to fire suppression efforts alone.
As a rancher and farmer from Woodward County , that was hard for me to accept. I am thankful we were able to do more for you folks.
Please know that we are fully aware that your problems and financial hardships continue and that we salute your hard work in digging out after the storm.
Terry L. Peach
Secretary of Agriculture