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Ag organizations meet with Colorado governor

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) and the Colorado Farm Bureau today led a delegation of Colorado commodity organization leaders who met with Gov. Bill Owens to thank him for his help to date and to ask for his leadership in mitigating the impact of the drought on agricultural producers.

“We expressed our appreciation to the governor for requesting designation of all Colorado counties as disaster areas, for his support of Senator Taylor’s bill to give capital gains relief to producers forced to sell livestock, and his strong support of water project financing,” said RMFU President John Stencel. “We also expressed our concern that an estimated 30-40 percent of Colorado family farmers and ranchers could be driven out of business this year in the absence of a significant level of emergency assistance.” The delegation asked Owens for his strong and immediate support of S.B. 2800, a bill that has been introduced into the U.S. Senate that would provide emergency disaster assistance to both crop and livestock producers.

“We asked Gov. Owens to urge support of this bill by Colorado’s congressional delegation, President George Bush and the Western Region Governor’s Association,” Stencel said. “We also urged him to provide government help with transportation of livestock feed, drought-related regulatory relief and further tax relief.”

According to Stencel, Gov. Owens’ reaction to the meeting was most favorable. “Gov. Owens understands the depth of the problem and offered to support federal and state legislation that would help farmers and ranchers through the severest of droughts ever experienced by producers.”

Also participating in the meeting were the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Colorado Wool Growers, the Colorado Corn Growers, and the Colorado Livestock Association.

Despite the fact that Front Range residents are just this year aware of drought, many areas of Colorado, particularly those in the south and eastern plains, are in their third year of drought. The Colorado wheat harvest will total only about 38 million bushels, the smallest yield since 1968. Fully 50 percent or 450,000 cattle have been sold in Colorado due to the drought. Five-hundred-cow dairies are losing $15,000 to $20,000 per month due to high feed costs and low producer prices for milk.