Craig briefs: Senator Bennet to visit Hayaden, talk farm bill

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U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., will be in Hayden at 4 p.m. Thursday to talk about the farm bill recently passed into law by the president. He will answer questions about the new bill and would like to hear input on a variety of initiatives as they pertain to agriculture. The meeting will be held at The Haven Community Center at 300 S. Shelton Lane. RSVP by emailing rsvp3@bennet.senate.gov or calling 970-433-1361.

Senator Udall applauds president on farm bill

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., supported the President’s decision to fast-track the availability of livestock disaster aid he successfully included in the 2014 farm bill, according to a press release. Udall recently joined his colleagues in urging the President to quickly implement the 2014 farm bill’s drought-aid provisions.

“I fought to ensure Colorado’s ranchers and livestock producers have access to a strong and reliable disaster assistance program in the 2014 farm bill. I am proud the president has heeded my call to quickly make these resources available to ranchers in Colorado who have struggled with droughts in recent years,” Udall said. “Ranching is an important part of Colorado’s agricultural heritage and one tied to the Centennial State’s earliest days. The president’s swift action and my contribution to the 2014 farm bill will ensure that ranchers continue to be a vital part of our job-creating agricultural economy.”

Under the president’s decision, ranchers and livestock producers will be eligible to apply for disaster assistance for losses dating back to Oct. 1, 2011, according to the release. Ranchers can learn more about the resources available to them by contacting their local Farm Service Agency office. Local Farm Service Agency county offices expect to begin processing applications April 14.

Udall repeatedly has pushed Congress to take up a five-year extension of the farm bill to give certainty to the agricultural producers, rural communities, foresters and others who rely on it for their livelihoods and ways of life.

Parks and Wildlife says keep your dogs safe

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is issuing a warning to people whose dogs chase wildlife: Keep them under control and away from deer, elk and other wild animals, or face the possibility of steep fines and the loss of a beloved pet.

Dogs that chase wild animals can cause them extreme stress and injuries from bites, wildlife officials said.

By late winter, many big game animals that are susceptible to dog harassment are pregnant females. As they run to escape, deer and elk expend crucial energy that can lead to an increase in the mortality rate of the animals or their unborn calves and fawns. Dogs that are allowed to interact with wildlife are also at a significant risk of being injured or killed by a wild animal, or at risk of being put down by a peace officer enforcing state wildlife laws.

To report any instance of dogs chasing wildlife, the public can call the local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office or Colorado State Patrol. In Colorado, the fine for knowingly or negligently allowing a dog to harass wildlife is $274, including surcharges. For more information about living with wildlife, go to www.wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Pages/LivingWith.aspx

Wise electricity usage saves money in winter

Atmos Energy is encouraging its customers to save money on their winter heating bills by reducing their energy usage.

“A little planning goes a long way when it comes to reducing winter heating bills,” Colorado/Kansas Division President Gary Gregory said.

Energy-saving tips:

■ Change or clean furnace filters once each month during the heating season.

■ Set your water heater’s temperature at 120 degrees.

■ Set your thermostat to 70 degrees during the day and 58 degrees when away from home for more than a few hours.

■ Close vents and doors in unused rooms and close cabinet and closet doors on outside walls.

If you are having trouble paying your utility bill, visit www.atmosenergy.com to learn more about energy assistance programs. Low-income customers are eligible for federal energy assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps pay energy bills and weatherize homes.

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