Faulkner County ranchers, who were affected by severe drought and who qualified for the Livestock Assistance Grants Program, will be among other qualified Arkansas ranchers to receive grant checks from the Arkansas Agriculture Department in the coming weeks, according to a news release Wednesday.
About 8,500 applicants statewide met the program’s requirements.
This past August, Gov. Mike Beebe pledged $2 million from the Governor’s Disaster Fund to provide relief for Arkansas ranchers during persistent drought conditions. During this summer, most of Arkansas’s counties at some point suffered from extreme or exceptional drought, the most severe two categories of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map.
About 41 percent of the state remains in an extreme or exceptional drought, despite recent rain. Faulkner County is shown on the Drought Monitor map as being divided between severe and extreme drought conditions as of Sept. 25.
Statewide, about 85 percent of pastures at one point were in “poor or very poor condition,” according to information on the National Weather Service in Little Rock website.
Ranchers in Arkansas have lost at least $128 million from the drought between August 2011 and July 2012, according to a University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture study. The losses are mostly related to a short supply of hay and rising hay costs, according to the site.
Throughout 2012, cattle, sheep and goat producers have found it difficult to locate, grow or afford hay and other forage for their animals. While the cattle industry suffered, most crops survived the drought, according to the release. Early planting due to a mild winter and ample supplemental water through irrigation led to good plant development and decent yields.
The final amount allocated from the state Disaster Fund is $2,125,000, according to the release.
The agriculture department is working with the state Department of Finance and Administration to process and send out the grant checks, according to the release. Officials hope to mail all the checks within the next three weeks.