Kansas lawmakers: USDA be flexible with wildfire response


Kansas lawmakers appreciate the wildfire response from the USDA thus far, but are asking for continued flexibility to meet challenges. U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Congressman Roger Marshall, R-Kan., sent a letter to the USDA on behalf of Kansas ranchers affected by the recent wildfires, expressing thanks for previous departmental actions taken and requesting additional programmatic and resource flexibility when responding to a disaster.

“With more than 700,000 acres burned to date across the state, local officials are still in the process of evaluating the totality of the damages and impacts from this disaster,” the lawmakers write. “In response to the recent wildfires, farmers, and ranchers across Kansas are in need of assistance to protect their property, livestock, and livelihood in a number of ways. We appreciate the Department utilizing programs offered through agencies, including the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency, to help with recovery efforts from this catastrophic event.

“Response efforts to natural disasters require flexibility to address challenges specific to local and county circumstances. We request that USDA consider any further requests, particularly those that have garnered local consensus on appropriate flexibilities, including additional conservation practices eligible for emergency grazing.

“Unfortunately, Kansas has now experienced two consecutive seasons of unrelenting wildfire. As a result of the Anderson Creek fires, many lessons have been learned that can be applied to the response and recovery efforts for the challenges that remain ahead related to the most recent wildfire. We urge the Department to employ any program requirements and contract flexibilities that will result in timely, deliverable assistance to producers during this critical time.”

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