Agriculture Rally Draws Hundreds

No water, no food…

That’s the message farmers and ranchers were delivering at an agricultural rally today in Klamath Falls.

Water has now been shut off to over 100 ranches in Klamath County.

Rally organizer Eric Duarte stresses that today’s event was not a protest…even though his irrigation water was shut off more than a week ago…

“It’s an actual rally to show the Klamath Basin what agriculture means to the Klamath Falls area, and to the state of Oregon in general.”

Less than two weeks ago, Becky Hyde was testifying on Klamath Water issues before a senate committee…she’s now reducing the size of her cattle herd.

“Our family has already shipped out four loads of cows, we have one load of yearlings left. We were one of the first people to be shut off.”

Over 200 trucks made a convoy from the Klamath County Fairgrounds to the Klamath County Courthouse for today’s rally, which drew a crowd of over 500 – with as many as 1000 along the convoy route.

The crowd included Bruce Topham, who’s now trying to run his Flying ‘T’ Ranch without water…

“We have probably 300 acres that has no other source of water. We weren’t even supposed to have water for the cows to drink, but I begged.”

Today’s rally triggered memories of a similar rally sparked by a water shutoff in 2001…and the ranchers hope that if a solution can be found, there will be no need for future rallies.

“And it is critical that we pull together as a community, and get a settlement, and work on it now, right now.” Notes Becky Hyde. “We cannot wait.”

The Klamath Tribes are exercising their right to cut off water to ranchers to improve fish runs…but ranchers are hoping there can be some water left for them, instead of being cut off entirely.

There was a strong law enforcement presence at today’s agricultural rally, and some cops were even brought in from outside the area.

While the convoy caused some traffic delays, police say there were no security problems with today’s rally.

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