Cattlemen Support Release of Conservation Reserve Program Ground
WASHINGTON - A coalition of America’s farmers and ranchers, today, filed an Amici Curiae brief in support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) decision to release 24 million acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ground for haying and grazing. Recent legal action taken by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to contest this release will cause severe economic harm to the many cattle producers who have made major capital investments to prepare this ground to feed their cattle.
On Thursday, July 17, the United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle, will hold a hearing regarding the “complaint for declaratory injunction” filed by NWF on June 27, 2008.
“Reversing the USDA decision at this late date would be the last straw for many cattle producers who are already on the brink of going out of business,” said Andy Groseta, NCBA president and cattle producer from Arizona. “With a continuing drought, historic feed costs and skyrocketing hay prices, cattle producers need this land to be able to feed their cattle as well as continue their land stewardship. The relationship between cattle producers and conservation has never been stronger, yet in today’s economy we need to be able to both conserve and use the land. We ask that the court consider the impact that NWF’s actions have caused to America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Over 50 producers submitted declarations to NCBA to be used in the brief. Throughout these declarations, producers discussed the expenses they have incurred and losses they expect due to the NWF’s temporary restraining order. Cattle producers have already invested over $800,000 in equipment, water, leases and fencing according to the submitted declarations
One example of the many stories of hardship endured by these producers includes Alan Hinds, a fourth generation rancher from Keyes, Oklahoma whose family has been ranching on this land since the early 1900’s. Due to prolonged drought conditions in the Oklahoma Panhandle, Hinds has already reduced his cattle herd from 2,500 to 400. If he is unable to use the CRP ground, he will have to liquidate his remaining cattle. His twenty-one year old son, the fifth generation of Hinds’ on the ranch, hopes to continue his family’s legacy.
The coalition filing the brief includes: the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in conjunction with Idaho Cattle Association, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, New Mexico Cattle Growers, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Washington Cattlemen’s Association, Washington Cattle Feeders Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).