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Farmers encouraged to report damage to FSA

LAWTON, Okla._The Comanche County Emergency Management Office is urging local farmers to report flood damage.

However, instead of reporting it to FEMA, farmers need to report it to the Farm Service Agency. Like FEMA, FSA helps after a disaster, but this is strictly for farmers who had damage such downed fences, debris from floodwaters that was left on farmland or lost livestock.

A downed barbwire fence doesn't seem like much, but farmers say the fences usually need to be completely replaced when damaged and that can cost around $1,500 per quarter mile.

Southwest Oklahoma farmers have been praying for rain for years, but after torrential downpours and flooding, they're being careful of what they wish for.

"Anytime you're farming, you're doing battle with Mother Nature," said Kenneth Klein, a farmer.

Klein lives near Beaver Creek, an area that had parts well under water during the floods. Now that the waters are gone, they're able to assess the damage.

"The trash is stacked up on the fences and pushed the fences down and the easiest route would take it all off and start back with new fences," said Klein.

Even weeks after the flooding, it's still difficult to get to his land in his four-wheel drive farm truck, and he's not the only one dealing with flood damage.

"There are a few people on further south that did leave some cattle in the low-lying areas. The fences down, the cattle scattered, they were spending quite a bit of time looking for them, rounding them up and some have not been found yet," said Klein.

Downed fences, lost cattle and much more can add up for farmers, that's why the county is asking for them to report damage to the FSA.

"They need farmers to call in to tell us ‘this is what damage I'm getting,' so they know there is a real need and that the farmers need assistance to get their production back on track," explained Ashleigh Hensch, Comanche County Emergency Management public information officer.

A farmer can receive up to 75 percent of restoration costs. Farmers and ranchers may qualify for assistance if the damage:

Will be so costly to rehabilitate that Federal assistance is or will be needed to return the land to productive agricultural use. The minimum qualifying cost of restoration is set at $1,000 per participant.

  • Is unusual and is not the type that would recur frequently in the same area.
  • Affect the productive capacity of the farmland.
  • Will impair or endanger the land.

Producers qualifying for assistance may receive a cost-share up to 75 percent, not to exceed $200,000 per natural disaster occurrence, for:

  • Removing debris from farmland.
  • Grading, shaping, or re-leveling severely damaged farmland.
  • Restoring permanent fences.
  • Restoring conservation structures and other similar installations.

Producers who have suffered a loss from a natural disaster may contact the Comanche County FSA Office and request assistance from June 8, 2015, to July 7, 2015, by calling (580)353-2115 ext. 2 to schedule an appointment.

Crop damage has also been big for farmers, unfortunately that isn't covered with FSA. Comanche County is also encouraging residents with any flood damage to go to FEMA at their center at Tomlinson Middle School. If residents don't start reporting, FEMA will be forced to leave.

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