Wyden, Merkley, Governor Brown seek federal assistance for Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler County farms and ranches hurt by wildfires

Senators and Governor to help Gilliam, Wasco, Sherman and Wheeler counties

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined with Gov. Kate Brown this week to ask federal officials to help north central Oregon farmers and ranchers continue their wildfire recovery efforts by allowing them increased opportunities for emergency haying and grazing.

In their letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the Oregon senators joined with the governor to ask that the Agriculture Department allow emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in Gilliam County and extend the emergency haying and grazing period in Wasco, Sherman and Wheeler counties.

“The loss of grazing land in particular presents an ongoing concern for producers in the area, and the opening up of CRP land in Wasco, Sherman and Wheeler counties has proven invaluable to producers in those counties,” they wrote, asking for an extension from the Sept. 30 authorization to Feb. 28, 2019. “We further ask that USDA extend the CRP haying and grazing authorization to Gilliam County for the same period.


“While the fire season was truly devastating, we stand in awe of how these communities came together to fight these fires, with volunteers putting themselves on the line to protect their and their neighbors’ homes and livelihoods,” they wrote. “These are truly resilient communities, and we have no doubt that they will emerge even stronger. We strongly encourage your use of all appropriate programs and authorities to help these producers and communities to get back on their feet.”


We’re forever grateful to those who helped the land owners in suppressing the fires. Now, as these land owners move into the recovery process, help is needed again,” said Gilliam County Judge Steve Shaffer. “Authorizing the grazing of CRP for the ranchers will relieve them of a huge concern. When their grazing issues are solved, Gilliam County farmers and ranchers can begin to focus on soil erosion and bringing their land back to its natural state.

The entire letter is here.