National News

Gov. Brown, state senators seek emergency aid for wheat farmers

Posted July 21, 2018 11:38 a.m. EDT

— Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and state senators Friday asked for emergency aid for farmers affected by a deadly wildfire burning east of The Dalles.

The more than 70,000-acre fire is burning through wheat, grass and brush, causing "untold damage" to Oregon's farmers, the letter says.

"This type of fire has not been seen in decades," the letter said, noting that wheat, a top commodity in Oregon, is valued at nearly $186 million. "It is with urgency we write to request that the Department of Agriculture provide any emergency assistance possible."

Officials said the Substation fire jumped from an estimated 50,000 acres to more than 70,000 Thursday night. Earlier, they said the blaze was the top priority wildfire in the nation. One man has died as a result of the fire.

In the letter to federal officials, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley and Gov. Brown say they are concerned that federal programs, such as crop insurance, are not sufficient for the farmers.

The Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services Friday estimated nearly half of the wheat crop in Wasco County may be lost because of the fire.

The government agency encouraged farmers to contact their crop insurance agent as soon as possible to file a claim and warned farmers not to destroy damaged crops until an insurance agent said it was okay.