Over the past couple of months we’ve been keeping a close eye on what is going on with the drought and water allocation in our region. We see the struggles our farm and ranch partners are experiencing and want to offer some resources in this time of uncertainty, as well as highlight the many organizations in our region taking on the fight to secure water for agricultural lands in our region.
- HDFFA Funds for Farmers/Ranchers: HDFFA is securing additional funding to allocate towards direct payments to farmers and ranchers for educational training and/or on-farm improvements. This cost share opportunity is an expansion of our season extender grant program and allows us to be more inclusive of the challenges of growing in our climate. These funds will be available at the end of 2021 for improvements for the 2022 season.
- One-on-one advisement from Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District: If you are looking for technical assistance on irrigation or conservation planning, you can contact Todd Peplin at SWCD at 541-923-4358 ext. 3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a small grant program available for producers and are able to connect you to NRCS for larger project funding.
- Energy Trust of Oregon Irrigation Improvements: This organization offers incentives and rebates on irrigation upgrades including Variable Frequency Drives, installation of drip irrigation, mainline upgrades, and more for Pacific Power customers. Contact Brad Moore at 503-837-2087 or email@example.com to learn more and apply. For Central Electric Co-op customers, contact Robert Wallace at 541-815-5503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Livestock Forage Disaster Program: The USDA Farm Services Agency is offering payments to livestock owners who have suffered a loss of grazed forage due to a qualifying drought. To apply, please contact your local FSA office at 541-923-4358.
- Crop Loss from Drought Notice: The Acting State Executive Director is encouraging producers who suffered crop loss from heat/drought to file a CCC-576 Notice of Loss even if your crops were uninsured. To turn in your application, contact your FSA office at 541-923-4358
Water rights and irrigation are a complicated issue. Fortunately, we have multiple organizations in the region working on creating access to this finite resource (listed alphabetically).
- Coalition for the Deschutes: This coalition works to protect and restore the Deschutes River through their partnerships with agricultural, business, and non-profit allies.
- Central Oregon LandWatch: LandWatch is working to deploy water policy and legal expertise to shape a more positive outcome for the river through compliance with state and federal water laws, advocacy to enhance stream flows and water quality, and pursuit of shared agendas for water use and stream restoration.
- Deschutes River Conservancy: The DRC works to restore streamflow and improve water quality through a collaborative and multi-stakeholder group of key public and private interests including farming, ranching, timber, development, hydro-power, recreation, tribes, and environment.
- Deschutes Basin Water Collaborative: A program of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, the DWBC works to engage stakeholders to collaborate on critical water allocation and management issues to develop strategies to meet stream flow, ecological, agricultural, and community needs for water.
- Upper Deschutes Watershed Council: This council seeks to restore two-million acres of the Upper Deschutes watershed through collaborative projects in habitat restoration, watershed education, and long-term monitoring.
Finally, we want to send a sincere thank you to all of our agricultural workers in Central Oregon. We see the challenges you face every year to grow food for our communities and steward the land. We admire your determination to grow and raise food in the high desert ecosystem and are inspired by your resiliency as we face a changing environment. We will continue to connect, educate, and serve our farm and ranch partners, just as you continue to produce food and supply our vibrant local food system.