Udall, USDA open lands for emergency haying, grazing

Colorado senators Mark Udall (D) and Michael Bennet (D) announced Tuesday agricultural producers throughout Colorado are eligible for emergency haying and grazing on U.S. Department of Agriculture lands.

Sixty-two of Colorado’s 64 counties have been designated by the USDA as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought, excessive heat and high winds, according to a joint Udall/Bennet news release issued Tuesday.

The two other Colorado counties have been named contiguous disaster areas.

“The entire state of Colorado has been severely affected by hot and dry conditions that have hampered the production of our agricultural producers,” Bennet said in the release. “The designations from USDA will provide much-needed assistance to farmers to help offset their losses due to drought. Agriculture is a critical part of Colorado’s economy, and these resources will help producers weather a difficult growing season.”

The emergency authorization comes days after President Barack Obama visited wildfire sites throughout the state.

Obama designated Colorado as a natural disaster area citing extreme wildfire and drought conditions.

“The wildfire and extreme drought affecting Coloradans threaten crops, livestock and rural livelihoods on some environmentally sensitive lands,” Udall said in the release. “I urge Colorado’s agricultural producers to take full advantage of the emergency haying and grazing program to help ensure their livestock and bottom lines are not harmed by these severe conditions.”

Last month Udall and Bennet requested federal assistance from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack citing concerns from Colorado’s agricultural producers about financial and operational losses.

Emergency haying and grazing of CRP acreage may be authorized in times of severe drought or other natural disasters.

Under the CRP, the USDA provides financial assistance to farmers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land, improve water quality, control soil erosion, and protect Colorado's wildlife for both conservation and hunting activities.

For more information on the CRP and other Farm Service Agency programs, visit the Moffat County FSA office, 145 Commerce St., call 824-3476 or log onto www.fsa.usda.gov.

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