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Rural Economy Project

Bill Could Help Oregon Wildfire-Stricken Ranchers

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on 
a disaster relief bill targeting the national drought. The bill could also help wildfire-stricken Oregon ranchers who have been unable to get federal aid.

The federal programs that help ranchers when they lose cattle or grazing land expired last year. And congress is deadlocked over a 2012 farm bill that would re-start the programs.

Lynn Voigt directs the Farm Service Agency in Oregon. He says the new house bill is just a stopgap measure. But it would make aid available to cover wildfire losses. Voigt says ranchers should prepare, in case the measure passes.

“When they’ve lost livestock, it’s important they maintain records on how many head have been lost, and if they can, get verification of that,” Voigt explained.

One relief program is currently authorized and will be available to Oregon ranchers shortly. It’s a conservation program that pays for fence building and water hauling after disasters. But the country’s widespread drought means Oregon ranchers will face stiff competition for that money.

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