SALEM – Ranchers affected by wildfires in Oregon can apply for help through a new program.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association has been designated as the lead entity to facilitate distribution of some $100,000 in disaster relief and recover funding.

The OCA announced this week that the applications are available online at http://orcattle.com/news/current-issues/restore.html or by contacting the OCA office at 503-361-8941 or oca@orcattle.com.

Applications must be submitted or postmarked by July 31.

Applications will also be available through county livestock associations, local Farm Service Agency (FSA), Soil and Water Conservation Districts, county commissions and OSU Extension Service offices.

The program arose after wildfires in 2012 burned more than a million acres in Oregon, threatening the economic viability of communities in the southeast portion of the state. In July 2012, Harney and Malheur counties were recognized by the state and federal government as disaster areas.

Last September, the Oregon Department of Agriculture got approval for $50,000 in funding from the Oregon Emergency Board to aid the economic recovery of the affected areas. In May, the money was later matched by the governor’s strategic reserve fund.

This year declarations of drought already have been extended to many other counties in the state.

“The assistance comes at a crucial time, with ranchers facing exponentially higher feed bills due to current drought conditions paired with previous wildfire impacts,” said Curtis Martin, OCA president. “While we know demand for wildfire assistance far exceeds supply, we feel privileged in the opportunity to provide the available aid with hopes of softening the blow enough to keep them in business.”

The Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Station will receive $30,000 of the funds to study wildfire prevention on Oregon rangelands. A program has been developed that will disperse the remaining $70,000 to owners of property damaged.

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