Also Declares Statewide Emergency Drought Conditions to Help Wisconsin Farmers
Governor Doyle has asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns to declare 52 drought-stricken counties disaster areas as farmers feel the affects of lack of rain and hot temperatures in recent weeks and officials reported low soil moisture. The Governor also issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency due to current drought conditions.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy and we will do everything we can to help our farmers get through this drought emergency, save their crops, and protect our farm economy,” Governor Doyle said. “The lack of rain this year combined with last year’s drought means that farmers could see significant damage to their crops and severe economic losses.”
The 52 counties are: Adams, Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Door, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Florence, Fond du Lac, Forest, Jackson, Juneau, Iron, Green Lake, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Portage, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Sheboygan, Shawano, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Washburn, Waupaca, Winnebago, Wood, Vilas, and Waushara.
According to the August 13th version of Wisconsin Crop Progress, prepared by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture and Statistics Service, the requested counties are located in regions of the state experiencing soil moisture shortages in excess of 70%. There are concerns across the state for loss in yields due to low moisture levels with reports of corn producers considering chopping corn for silage to salvage the crop and Wisconsin pastures and hayfields continuing to dry up and turn brown.
A disaster designation would allow crop producers in those counties to qualify for assistance, generally in the form of low-interest loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets a threshold of 30 percent crop losses countywide for a county to receive assistance.
The Governor also declared a statewide drought emergency so that the Department of Natural Resources could expedite farmers’ requests to use water from lakes and streams for irrigation.
“In addition to asking the federal government for assistance, I am proclaiming a statewide drought emergency to help farmers get quick access to the water they need to give their crops some relief,” Governor Doyle added.
The drought emergency Executive Order will allow the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to expedite farmers’ requests for temporary irrigation permits to divert stream or lake water to irrigate their crops, while assuring that fish and other aquatic life and water users aren’t hurt by the requested diversions. In addition, the DNR is required to conduct a field inspection of the stream or lake proposed for diversion within 72 hours of receiving the request.
Under the Executive Order, the temporary irrigation permits would be in effect until September 12, 2007, which is when the Executive Order expires, unless extended by a joint resolution of the Legislature.
Adams, Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Dunn, Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marquette, Oneida, Polk, Price, Rusk, St. Croix, Sawyer, Taylor, Vilas, Washburn and Waushara counties were declared disasters in 2006.
Statewide drought emergencies were also declared in 2005 and 2006.
A copy of Governor Doyle’s letter to Secretary Johanns is available at: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=11636.
A copy of the Executive Order is available at: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=11635.
A copy of the report is available at: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=11634.