Because of a severe drought and devastating wildfires breaking out across the state, Colorado farmers are receiving financial and operational support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For the past several weeks, Colorado has been in the grip of a major drought, leaving many farmers worried about upcoming harvests. In addition to this drought, extremely high temperatures and high winds have contributed to ongoing wildfires, leaving the resources of many farmers stretched to the breaking point. Added to this mess, is competition for water rights from energy companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing, a method of fossil fuel extraction that relies on injecting massive amounts of water into underground oil and gas deposits.
In response to the drought conditions, the USDA will allow farmers to use Conservation Reserve land to grow hay and graze livestock. While lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program are typically removed from agricultural production in order to protect fragile environmental ecosystems, the USDA can authorize limited use of that land in weather emergencies.
In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Colorado Representatives Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton wrote, “Ranchers are already beginning to sell off their herd in parts of Colorado because of the lack of hay. “ Farmers and ranchers throughout Colorado need additional acreage to keep their livestock healthy and viable for future production and sale.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer