KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Farmers were driving tractors and other agriculture equipment from Merrill to Midland in southern Oregon Friday to express frustration about a meager water season facing irrigators this year.
Hundreds were expected to attend the “Shut Down and Fed Up” tractor rally in Midland, spokesperson Molly Jenkins told the Capital Press. Photos of tractors lining up in Merrill Friday morning displayed signs with slogans such as “Food grows where water flows,” the Herald and News reported.
The tractor convoy is traveling through Klamath Falls and will culminate in a rally with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden among the speakers.
Tulelake farmer and an event organizer Scott Seus said the event is a way to allow irrigators to release anger after they were told of an early shutoff of irrigation water after many had already planted crops.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which determines water allocation for the Klamath Project according to the biological opinion, told irrigators in April that they would receive 140,000 acre-feet of water for farming. Many planted crops accordingly, knowing their water usage would be much lower than half of a full 350,000 acre-foot allocation.
After the Natural Resources Conservation Service released a dry May 1 forecast, with many crops in the ground, it became clear that that amount would likely be reduced to 80,000 acre-feet. Of that, 55,000 acre-feet was left as of May 10. That amount of irrigation water will run out around July 1.
“We’re all in shock over here trying to figure out how to deal with it,” Seus said. “At every moment, we are trying to deal with this crisis and how to avert in any way, shape or form.”
Convoy and rally organizers are trying to attract the attention of President Donald Trump.
“I hope that we have his attention, and if we don’t, I hope that we gain it,” Seus said. “I would hope that his administration would try to find ways to find lasting solutions.”