Wildfires last year devastated thousands of acres of farm and ranch land in western Oklahoma.

Livestock was killed, pastures burned and thousands of miles of fences were destroyed.

To help out with the response to such a disater, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe teamed with Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to introduce the Wildfire Regulatory Relief Act, as Inhofe said at Agrifest on Friday to “address the unique concerns farmers, ranchers and rural communities face after a wildfire.” 

“I went out three times in my plane ... we actually saw the cattle burning. It’s something you can’t really talk about,” Inhofe said Friday. “And so we looked at what changes need to be made so that we’re not going to have this problem again.” 

Inhofe said the federal response to such disasters is “highly bureaucratic and over-regulated, preventing resources from being effective.” 

The Wildfire Regulatory Relief Act would:

• Allow grazing on CRP lands when a governor declares a state emergency, not just for drought and flooding conditions.

• Improve disaster assessments by requiring FEMA to account for all damage, including agricultural operations, like fence line.

• Encourage state-federal collaboration by making grants available to states that strengthen state-wide collaboration and communication.

• Provide regulatory relief for community banks, such as flexible loan teams and reporting requirements so banks can better facilitate recovery efforts in their communities.

We hope the Wildfire Regulatory Relief Act is approved in Congress quickly and signed into law. 

While it won’t be able to prevent more devastating wildfires, the legislation will make the response quicker so farmers and ranchers can get back on their feet faster.

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