Colorado and Wyoming join other states in asking USDA FSA for winter relief

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 9, 2023 -  Leaders from Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming’s Agriculture departments have penned a letter to USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux asking for relief due to the persistence of snow causing higher levels of supplemental feed.

“This winter has been particularly hard for livestock producers in the Western United States,” the letter reads.” The winter season started early and we have heard reports from producers that they were forced to commence much higher levels of supplemental feed and will need to sustain these operations for a longer period than at any time in recent memory.” 

The letter states producers have purchased higher levels of supplemental feed due to the lack of available forage in traditional wintering grounds and animal performance has been hampered. 

Producers have also had difficulty moving animals off Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allotments due to the inability to use snow removal equipment, as BLM prohibits supplemental grazing on its allotments. 

“If you’re a grazing permit this time of the year, a lot of those winter permits were snowed over early,” J.J. Goicoechea, director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture, told the Mountain West News Bureau. “And then none of that vegetation was showing through, especially as that snow continued to accumulate.”

Goicoechea said hay and forage that producers would typically use this time of year were in short supply due to the ongoing drought. 

Goicoechea and other state agricultural leaders are asking Ducheneaux for “any flexibility and innovative ideas from the FSA perspective that could expand eligibility and use of emergency programs to provide relief.” They are asking for supplemental feed locations to move livestock, snow removal assistance and reimbursement for transportation expenses. The state leaders have asked producers to document losses and conditions to their local FSA office. 

In addition to Goicoechea, the letter was signed by Craig Buttars, commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture; Kate Greenberg, commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture; and Doug Miyamoto, director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

Source: Charles Wallace, WLJ editor