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Colorado Lawmakers Ask for More Drought Assistance

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Kirk Siegler

With the severe drought still gripping the region, two Colorado Republican lawmakers are asking the federal government to extend an emergency order that opened up more lands for livestock grazing and haying. 

In June, US Agriculture officials lifted grazing and haying restrictions on lands previously off-limits under the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP.  But with no substantial moisture forecast in the coming weeks, Colorado Congressmen Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton want USDA to extend that order through November 30th

In a letter penned to the agency Thursday, the two Republicans argue the extension would help Colorado cattle ranchers get through the fall – or until corn, corn stalks and wheat grass become available for feed after the harvest.

They write:

The initial emergency authorization you provided in June of this year has been very beneficial for our constituents.  Many counties in Colorado are currently benefiting from the ability to utilize CRP land for emergency haying and grazing.  However, because these counties are still suffering from severe drought which has lasted exceptionally longer than any drought in Colorado's recent history, we ask that you extend emergency grazing and haying through November 30, 2012.

According to the US Drought monitor, almost ¾ of all of the nation’s land devoted to cattle raising is under drought conditions.  

Some ranchers have already been forced to sell off their cattle herds early, and Gardner and Tipton warn this problem will only exacerbate. 

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