Feds bolster fund for drought relief in the West

In response to a historically-dry winter, $110 million has been allocated for a fiery summer.

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In response to a historically-dry winter, $110 million has been allocated for an expected fiery summer in the West.

Additionally, $72 million in crop insurance savings will be made available for the next two years for farmers struggling with dry conditions.

Through its Risk Management Agency, the USDA will expand a program that allows farmers to exclude the exceptionally bad production years resulting from drought from the calculation of their crop insurance coverage, providing an estimated $30 million in additional relief in fiscal 2016 and $42 million in the following year, according to federal officials. As part of a sweeping aid package for parched Western states, the Labor Department will give as much as $18 million to provide jobs for displaced California workers while the USDA Food and Nutrition Service will help set up 760 community meal sites in the Central Valley. Obama announced the aid package on June 12 as he and top administration officials were holding a teleconference with Western governors, including California Gov. Jerry Brown and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

“The goal of the briefing was to provide an update to our leaders in the western United States about the outlook for drought and wildfire in the coming summer season and to talk about ways the federal government is working to partner with states in the West on the challenges they’re currently facing,” White House senior adviser Brian Deese told reporters in a conference call after the president’s meeting. “Obviously we are focused on and concerned about the impact of the drought for economic and social conditions across the United States. But with the very dry conditions, the outlook for wildfire season is very acute through the West in the summer months.”

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)

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