Oklahoma drought relief fund is proposed

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: February 12, 2013
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Gov. Mary Fallin, who in her State of the State message to lawmakers announced that work was under way to review and rewrite the state's drought management plan, is willing to work with the Legislature to accomplish that goal, her press secretary, Aaron Cooper, said Monday.

Since October 2010, the statewide average precipitation is more than 2 feet below normal.

“This drought goes on another year, we've got some serious problems,” Armes said. “We've already got very serious problems.”

Armes said ranchers in his area of southern Oklahoma are moving cattle to places that have water or are hauling water to their livestock.

“A lot of places a guy might have a little bit of grass and have some grazing, but he doesn't have any water,” he said. “There are a lot of pickups with tanks in the back of them right now and a lot of trailers with tanks on the back that are just hauling water. And that gets extremely expensive, and it's not so much the cost of the water; it's the cost of the fuel hauling a very heavy load every single day.”

DeWitt said his area of northern Oklahoma usually fares well with precipitation, but the drought the past two years is taking its toll on crops, grasslands and ponds.

“Producers up there have eliminated half their cattle herds,” he said. “Very little water for livestock up in our area. The ponds have dried up. We have not had rain to fill those ponds. The grass situation is terrible; the hay situation is terrible.”

Kay County is a large wheat-producing area, but the winter wheat crop does not look good, he said.

“Surprisingly, there are pockets that look pretty decent, but then there are other areas that the wheat is really suffering,” DeWitt said. “It is stressed to the point that I'm not sure it will recover.”