This year most of Oregon’s Owyhee basin and nearby Malheur basin suffered from considerably less-than-average (pdf) snowpack and precipitation causing Governor Kitzhaber to declare a state of emergency in Malheur County. The drought has had devastating effects to the state’s poorest county, where farming is the main industry. According to Owyhee Irrigation District Manager Jay Chamberlin, many family farms have been forced to grow fewer water-heavy, cash crops in order to make ends meet. Many other farmers have ended their growing season several months early.
Chamberlin told OPB harvest time is in about two weeks and the effects of the drought will reverberate in grocery stores throughout the state as fewer vegetables, like onions, are available. He stresses, however, that it is important not to panic thanks in large part to conservation efforts by the Owyhee Valley farmers.
- Jay Chamberlin: Owyhee Irrigation District manager
- Bill Johnson: President of Sage Farms, Inc.