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August 28, 2001   Email to Friend 

FEDERATION URGES CONGRESS TO RELEASE WATER TO KLAMATH RIVER FARMERS
Jeff Helms
334-613-4212
August 28, 2001

"Montgomery, Ala." The Alabama Farmers Federation State Board of Directors has unanimously passed a resolution urging Congress and federal authorities to release irrigation water to farmers in Oregon's Klamath River Basin.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last April shut off irrigation water to 90 percent of the 220,000 acres of the Klamath Project based on government reports that said low water levels in the basin's canals and lakes threaten an endangered fish. Federal agencies started the Klamath Project in 1907 to irrigate the arid Klamath Basin.

Federation President Jerry Newby said the resolution shows support for the Oregon farmers while sending a message to Washington about the importance of American agriculture.

"Since the creation of the Klamath Project, farmers have come to rely on irrigation for their livelihood. Now, the government is turning the water off," Newby said. "If federal agencies continue to make these types of decisions, farmers could become an endangered species, and we could become dependent on other countries for our food and fiber."

More than 1,000 Oregon farmers are affected by the Bureau of Reclamation action. Drought-stricken farmers have forced open the head gates on the irrigation canal four times since July 4. When the Bureau closed the head gates again on Aug. 23, it concluded the shortest irrigation season in the basin's history.

The resolution calls for "congressional leaders and appropriate federal authorities to take necessary steps to make water available to farmers in the area."


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