The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared Siskiyou County in California a natural disaster area and agreed to extend emergency loans and other assistance to farmers in the region who have lost crops to drought since March.
Farmers and ranchers in neighboring Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties in southern Oregon also qualify for disaster assistance. So do farmers and ranchers in these northern California counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Modoc, Shasta and Trinity.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack:
“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to small grains, potatoes and the onion crop and prevented farmers from being able to harvest these crops. This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses.”
This summer, farmers in the Klamath River basin watched well water levels drop as pumping for crop irrigation continued on both sides of the California/Oregon boarder. There have been some major water wars in the region for awhile now, including battles between conservation and agriculture interests over saving water for threatened and endangered salmon.
I’ll never forget this story in The Washington Post, which highlighted just how desperate the situation had become before a lack of water led to a salmon die-off in the Klamath River in 2002.