Wis. Gov. Declares Statewide Emergency Drought Conditions to Help Farmers

July 19, 2005

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has issued an Executive Order declaring statewide emergency drought conditions as farmers feel the affects of lack of rain and hot temperatures this summer.

“Wisconsin’s drought conditions are stressing crops at a critical point in the growing season, and continued lack of rain could result in significant damage to our crops and severe economic losses for our farmers,” Gov. Doyle said. “This Executive Order will allow our farmers to access the water they need to irrigate their parched crops and ensure a plentiful harvest.”

The last statewide drought emergency was declared in August 2003. Already this summer, the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service reports that soil moisture conditions across the state are declining significantly due to the long spell of hot, dry weather.

The 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 parched crops, while assuring that fish and other aquatic life and water users aren’t hurt by the requested diversions.

Under the Executive Order, the temporary irrigation permits would be in effect until Aug. 14, 2005. 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.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy, generating about $51 billion a year and accounting for one in five jobs in Wisconsin,” Gov. Doyle said. “We will do everything we can to help our farmers get through this drought emergency, save their crops, and protect our farm economy.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Doyle requested a Secretarial Disaster Declaration from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 31 Wisconsin counties that suffered winterkill losses to forage crops and winter wheat.

Those counties named in the request are Brown, Barron, Burnett, Calumet, Clark, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Milwaukee, Oconto, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Polk, Racine, Rusk, Sawyer, Shawano, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washburn, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago Counties.

Farmers that have questions on the statewide drought emergency or the request for a federal disaster declaration should contact the Wisconsin Farm Center at 1-800-942-2474.

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