Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden secures relief for Oregon farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires

September 6, 2018
Press Release

Greg Walden secures relief for Oregon farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) has secured relief for Oregon farmers and ranchers who suffered severe losses after wildfires in Wasco and Sherman counties. In a letter to Representative Walden today, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the agency was authorizing Walden’s request to grant emergency grazing to local ranchers and flexibility for wheat producers whose crop was impacted by the wildfires.

“This wildfire season has not only impacted our forests and choked our communities with smoke, but also has devastated farmers and ranchers in Oregon," said Walden. "Farmers and ranchers -- especially in Wasco and Sherman counties -- have lost some or nearly all of their crops to rangeland fires that burned across the region. Secretary Perdue came to Oregon to meet with me and the local ag community shortly before these fires devastated one of the very farms where we met in Sherman County. I applaud Secretary Perdue’s prompt approval of my request to get our farmers and ranchers the assistance they need to get back on their feet after these fires.”

Walden wrote to Secretary Perdue on August 2 requesting assistance from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for wheat farmers and ranchers impacted by the Substation Fire.

“Oregon again finds itself in the middle of another terrible fire year. Fires from one end of the state to the other have consumed over 250,000 acres already. Sadly, the very wheat farm we visited in Sherman County, and many of their neighbors, recently lost some or all of their crops to fire,” wrote Walden in the August letter. “Farmers and ranchers affected by the fire have told me that USDA could greatly assist them in dealing with this disaster by both authorizing emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ground, and by ensuring Risk Management Agency (RMA) gives flexibility to summer fallow producers who utilize cover crop this year for emergency soil stabilization. I ask that you ensure USDA Farm Service Agency and RMA act promptly to provide this needed relief.”

In response to Walden’s request, Secretary Perdue stated that USDA will authorize emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program land, and will grant necessary flexibility to summer fallow wheat producers.

Walden also requested in August that UDSA approve the state of Oregon’s disaster declaration after the fires.  Secretary Perdue stated that USDA is currently compiling reported losses, recommendations for counties as disaster areas, and additional information to complete the review process before making a determination on the disaster declaration.

To read Secretary Perdue’s full letter to Representative Walden, please click here. To read Representative Walden’s August letter to Secretary Perdue, please click here.