Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter today asked the federal government for drought relief for farmers and ranchers in four southeast Colorado counties. Despite the above-average snowfall in the Colorado mountains this past winter, some parts of southeast Colorado have seen only 19 percent of normal precipitation.
Specifically, Gov. Ritter is seeking permission for immediate haying and grazing on federal Conservation Reserve Program acres for farmers and ranchers in Baca, Bent, Kiowa and Prowers counties.
Gov. Ritter sent the following letter to the federal Farm Service Agency:

Lewis Frank

State Director
Farm Service Agency
U.S. Department of Agriculture
655 Parfet St.
Lakewood, CO  80215
Dear Mr. Frank:
As you are aware, drought has once again appeared in parts of Colorado despite the abundant snowfall Colorado experienced this past winter.  In parts of southeast Colorado precipitation is as low as 19 percent of normal.
I am asking USDA Farm Service Agency offices to assess local conditions throughout Colorado and prepare damage assessment reports if crop losses appear to exceed threshold levels. 
I am particularly concerned about the production of native pasture.  I am hearing reports that ranchers are reducing their herds due to lack of pasture.  Therefore, I am also asking that all efforts be taken to secure permission for immediate haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres in southeast Colorado, specifically in the most immediate areas of concern:  Baca, Prowers, Kiowa and Bent Counties
The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) has concurrence from the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) to support immediate access for the eligible CRP acreage in Baca, Prowers, Kiowa and Bent Counties for purposes of haying and grazing. They will work together to ensure that immediate haying and grazing be conducted in a manner consistent with sound wildlife management practices. 
I very much appreciate the efforts FSA has already undertaken to address drought conditions in Colorado.
Bill Ritter, Jr.