Feds Approve Drought Funding For Klamath Basin

The federal government has designated southern Oregon's Klamath Basin as a disaster area due to drought conditions. The declaration makes farmers there eligible for low-interest loans.

Lower than average snow pack this winter means less water is available for farmers in the Klamath Basin. The disaster declaration applies to six counties in southern Oregon and two in northern California. Democratic US Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon says the new loans will help alleviate conditions that are some of the worst on record.

Jeff Merkley: “It doesn't cover everything. Of course, we're still hoping the weather will cooperate and start putting lots of rain in the Klamath Basin which would in combination with this monetary assistance go a long ways.”

Previously announced federal aid will allow farmers to pump groundwater. The federal government will pay other farmers to leave their fields idle for the year. That's meant to reduce the overall demand for water. Farmers who did not purchase crop insurance are unlikely to see much by way of federal aid. I'm Chris Lehman reporting.