KLAMATH WATER USERS ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS USDA’S ANNOUNCED FUNDING RELIEF
Klamath Water Users Association expressed strong support and appreciation for today’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of financial relief for Klamath Project irrigators who have been deprived of Klamath Project water this year.
USDA will contract with the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (KPDRA) to provide nearly $15 million to producers who have been slammed by successive years of water shortage, compounded by the past year’s COVID pressures on production and markets.
“We are very grateful to Secretary Vilsack and his team at USDA,” said KPDRA President Marc Staunton. “The agency has been committed from the top down to address the drastic harm that is being experienced in the Project agricultural community.”
Mr. Staunton said that the KPDRA is still working out the details as to how the funds will be deployed. One possibility is that the KPDRA will offer payments to producers on all eligible land in the Project, on an equal, per-acre basis.
Producers would be eligible whether they participated in other KPDRA programs this year or not. “All producers have dealt with their own unique problems, losses, and costs, and the KPDRA board is inclined to spread the assistance to all.”
However, some areas of the Project would not qualify.
“Unfortunately, the same as for our ‘non-irrigation’ program, land will not be eligible in districts that the Bureau of Reclamation believes is not in compliance with the 2021 Project operations plan,’ said Mr. Staunton.
KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons said that KWUA has been working with USDA officials since January to identify relief opportunities.
“They have really listened, and worked to establish a program that will provide a boost to producers and the regional economy that agriculture supports,” he said.
On April 14, USDA had announced a ten million-dollar program to provide assistance. Today’s announcement will replace that program.
“What they have arrived at is a much better fit, and it should be very efficient on the ground,” according to Mr. Simmons.
Mr. Staunton thanked the U.S. Senators from Oregon and California for their coordination with USDA on the issue.
“Senators Wyden, Merkley, Feinstein, and Padilla all worked hard to be sure USDA understood this situation needed attention and help,” he said. “ We are indebted to them for their efforts on behalf of producers in the Project and the local business supported by agriculture.”
Mr. Simmons noted that financial relief – while welcome – is not the top priority of KWUA.
“Our most important priority is to have water for irrigation so producers can produce,” said Mr. Simmons. “But we have to play the cards we were dealt this year and do the best we can for producers who are under duress.”
He added that although USDA’s $15 million will be in addition to $15 million that the Bureau of Reclamation has provided to the KPDRA, that is still not nearly enough.
“We will continue to go to exhaust every possible source for additional funding.”, he said.
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To read the USDA press release, click here.