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Agricultural News

Producers, Lawmakers Should Consider Worst-Case Drought Possibilities Now, Clay Pope Says

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 16:36:20 CST

Producers, Lawmakers Should Consider Worst-Case Drought Possibilities Now, Clay Pope Says
With over 90 percent of Oklahoma entering a third year of extreme to exceptional drought, a lot of people are beginning to wonder if the current drought might indeed be as severe as that experienced in the 1950s or even the 1930s. Should that be the case, the current extremely dry conditions could stretch five years or longer with further devastation for an already-reeling farm sector.

Clay Pope, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays and said there are a number of things federal and state lawmakers as well as producers can do beginning now to blunt the damage should the worst come to pass.

“The first thing I would say we need to do is pass the farm bill. The tools that we need to make sure that we’re helping agriculture producers, that landowners have the resources they need to protect the soil and water and air for all of us is in the conservation title of that farm bill. So we need to pass the farm bill. You look at the work Congressman Lucas has done, you look at the work that Chairman Stabenow has done, they’ve done great work and they’ve got a great conservation title. The challenge has been in the House. Hopefully that’s moving forward. We’ll see how that goes between now and the end of the year.”

Action on the state level is important as well, Pope said.

“In Oklahoma, I think we need to be looking seriously at doing a drought package--I really believe that--additional cost-share dollars, not just to address soil conservation, but also to help with livestock water. One of the things I think that is desperately needed is making sure we have ways to provide water for livestock. We’ve seen what this has done so far to our cattle herd in Oklahoma and that’s only going to get worse.”

He said a state drought package should include assistance to repair and reseed pastures damaged by the drought, while also providing assistance to producers for hauling hay in the interim.

“From a personal level as producers, I think we also need to be sitting down and looking at our crop insurance policies. What do we need to do? Let’s say, God forbid, we don’t get any moisture or any sizeable moisture between now and, say, New Years Day. Wheat’s going backwards or hasn’t emerged or come up. We’ve got fields that are bare, they start to blow. What do our policies say if we want to go out there and rough it up with a harrow and try to keep it from blowing? How do we get a waiver on that so we don’t fall out of compliance with our crop insurance policy? What do we need to be doing about that?”

Pope said producers may need to think farther ahead and explore alternative crops and cropping methods should the drought stretch even further. He says conservation tillage is now the norm across the state and he would like to see more strip till and no till adopted so we can get through this tough time.

You can hear the entire interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.



Ron Hays talks with Clay Pope about implementing exceptional drought strategies now.
right-click to download mp3


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