MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency Monday, July 9th in 42 Wisconsin counties due to drought, or abnormally dry conditions.
The declaration allows expedited permits for farmers to temporarily use stream or lake water for irrigation.
The declaration covers these counties: Adams, Brown, Buffalo, Calumet, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond Du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Kewaunee, LaCrosse, Lafayette, Marquette, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Monroe, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, and Wood.
During a state of emergency, the Department of Natural Resources can expedite requests from farmers to divert water from streams and lakes for irrigation. The DNR must inspect the stream or lake in question within 72 hours of the request, to assure that fish and other aquatic life will not be harmed by the diversion.
In a statement, Gov. Walker said: “The lack of rainfall since May in the southern half of the state has hit hard in a crucial part of the growing season. Farm families are suffering under the stress and worry, but this is also a matter of statewide importance. Agriculture adds more than $59 billion to our economic output every year, and accounts for 354,000 jobs – one in every 10 Wisconsinite depends on agriculture for employment. It’s a vital sector of our economy that we need to protect.”
Gov. Walker also encouraged farmers to report crop conditions to their local U.S. Farm Service Agency office.
Farmers can also turn to the Wisconsin Farm Center, housed in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Farmers can call the center toll-free at 1-800-942-2474, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The center is staffed 7:45 a.m-4:30 p.m. weekdays.