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As USDA budget cuts loom in Trump’s proposal, farmers voice concern over feral swine program’s future

LUTHER, Okla. - Proposed federal funding cuts to the United States Department of Agriculture has some farmers in Oklahoma concerned about what the potential cuts could mean for the state's feral swine management program.

Wildlife Services could face a $45 million funding cut, according to the proposed budget released by the Trump administration.

In Oklahoma, the feral swine program is administered by Wildlife Services and funded through multiple revenue streams from the federal, state and local levels.

"Feral swine aren’t the only damage that we work with," said Oklahoma Wildlife Services State Director Kevin Grant. "That being said, feral swine are almost a part-time endeavor for us. They’re going to take a whole lot of a real push from us to get control."

In 2012, the USDA said feral swine could be found in 38 states. Grant says there are at least one million animals in Oklahoma, but exact numbers are hard to come by.

"They’re the most prolific large mammal on the planet and, unchecked, who knows how far they can go. They are smart, they are so adaptable, they’ll eat anything," Grant said.

Curtis Roberts would know. The land owner and cow-calf farmer says the feral hogs on his property near Luther are more than a nuisance.

"They’ve just gone in there like a dadgum bunch of dozers," Roberts said of the animals tearing up his land. "You get 13 sows having three litters a year. You can shoot away and you’re not making a dent in them. We’re going to have to go at them in some other way."

The only dent, Roberts says, has been made by the USDA's feral swine management program, through trapping, snares and aerial shooting. It currently has a trap set up on one of his pastures.

But considering the unknown budget future, Roberts hopes the program isn't cut, and wants more resources put in to it.

“There’s getting to be enough pressure on the farmers end of it, that they’re going to have to start allocating more money. They’ve done a good job, for what money they’ve had," said Roberts.

The state's agriculture secretary, Jim Reese, tells NewsChannel 4 the state is looking at ways to restructure the program's funding and hopefully expand it in the future.