New State Law Boosts Funding For Drought Relief


Tuesday, October 4th 2022, 5:48 pm



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Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law setting aside $20 million for the state’s Emergency Drought Relief Fund.

The law went into effect upon Stitt’s signing Tuesday.

The law is intended to help farmers and ranchers overcome challenges brought on by prolonged drought conditions.

Agriculture producers across Oklahoma have felt the impacts, including one of the largest Christmas tree farms in the state.

Producing a holiday season staple of comfort and joy requires a year of hard work and sweat.

Michael Dunn works as a farm hand for Sorghum Mills Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm.

“Two feet of growth a year, sometimes more,” said Dunn, describing the life of a typical pine tree.

As the Christmas season approaches, Dunn hopes the rain will, as well. The drought has made a difficult job more challenging.

“If it continues on, there’s a good chance we’ll start losing trees,” Dunn said. 

The trees are also grown in semi-drought conditions to increase root depth and improve durability in dry conditions.

“We water 12 times a year, which is once every three weeks,” Dunn said.

This year, however, the farm had to increase its watering method to once per week.

With more than 45,000 trees and more than 80 acres of space, the farm is only permitted to use a million gallons of water. It is a limit drawing near. 

“The more we have to water, the closer we get to that amount and, once we get to the million gallons, we have to stop,” Dunn said.

A decrease in water can also means an increase in bugs.

“There’s now bugs that have to feed on there because there are fewer plants,” Dunn said.

If the drought condition persist, Dunn believes future crops could be smaller in size or fewer in number.

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