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Food and Agriculture

USDA Launches Assistance Programs For Oregon Farmers Affected By COVID, Wildfire

Dairy-farm-cows-Oregon-fire-evacaution-091120-Courtesy-of-Brandon-Hazenberg-scaled.jpeg

Many farmers and ranchers took a big financial hit during the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching programs in Oregon to help.

The Oregon branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is granting $2 million dollars to outreach for socially disadvantaged farmers, particularly farmers of color and people who lost some of their crop to wildfire. They are also re-opening applications to their food assistance program.

Josh Hanning is with the U.S.D.A. Farm service. He says they are using the money to distribute resources broadly across the state.

“We have had extensive sign-ups for the wildfires that happened in 2020," says Hanning. "If folks lost timberland, we’re going in and cleaning the debris off of those lands, rebuilding fence, putting back water structures if need be, things like that.”

Hanning says that a big chunk of the funding is also going to partnerships with existing organizations, like tribal governments and nonprofits, that can help with technical services, like replanting crops.

The deadline for organizations to apply for grants is May 5.

Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers in Oregon are now eligible to apply for a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to producers that struggled financially because of the pandemic.

Eligible applicants include specialty crops, livestock, dairy, row crops, aquaculture, and nursery crops.

The program is a part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, a federal project to help farmers and ranchers.

Hanning said that although there is no confirmed deadline for applications, people can apply online until at least the beginning of June.