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Tribal officials address state's hay shortage as Cherokee Nation ranchers struggle

A photo of hay bells taken from a video posted to the Cherokee Nation's Facebook on the statewide shortage of hay. Photo provided on August 9, 2022.

Tribal officials are addressing the state's hay shortage as Cherokee Nation ranchers struggle to feed their livestock.

The Cherokee Nation is providing a $1 million relief program to help citizen ranchers.

The “Relief for Cherokee Ranchers” program will help support up to 2,000 ranchers with a one-time payment of $500.

Chad Harsha, the Nation's Secretary of Natural Resources, said officials hope the funds will help provide some relief to citizens facing tough economic conditions.

"We know the know the drought here in Cherokee nation reservation has greatly burdened our ranchers," Harsha said. "Without adequate grazing pasture and hay to cut, it's growing more difficult to keep livestock fed. We know that feed supplies are low, and costs are on the rise."

Program applications are available on the Gadugi portal and will last until August 19th or until funds run out.

Eligible ranchers must live within the Cherokee Nation Reservation and currently be impacted by the state's hay shortage.

“Since 2020, the Cherokee Nation administration and council has worked to provide over $750 million in direct financial assistance to Cherokee citizens,” Council of the Cherokee Nation for District 1 Rex Jordan said. “When the council reviewed and approved the administration’s first ARPA budget in May 2020 by a vote of 16-1, little did we know that it would set the stage for stepping up for our farmers and ranchers today in their time of need."

Officials said those eligible ranchers are also required to submit a Schedule F (Farm income and expenses) form from the current or last tax year in the application.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.