Nevada seeks federal help for ranchers impacted by winter storms

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 6:56 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -It was just months ago that some ranchers in northeastern Nevada asked for help. Federal relief money to help with the cost of hauling water to their thirsty herds in the midst of a drought.

Looking toward winter they hoped for another kind of relief: a good snowpack. They knew, however, the drought had left the range land out there with sparse, stunted forage. Their herds might need some extra feed.

“Most of these guys were prepared,” says state agriculture Director J.J. Goicochea. “They had what they needed for an average winter, but this winter just hasn’t quit and it won’t quit. The wind, the snow, and these cold temperatures.”

While the snow has melted in most western Nevada valleys, out where they are it, can still be fairly deep and, in many places, it still covers the sparse grass left by the drought. The cattle out here have little to survive on and just getting feed to them is difficult and expensive.

“Fuel is still $5 a gallon,” says Goicochea. “So, if we’re trying to plow into these cows in some places or we’re trying to haul hay or other supplemental feed in those freight costs are starting to dig into that feed budget.”

Their dilemma hits close to home for Goicochea whose family has ranched in Eureka County for generations.

“There’s a lot of people they’re getting to the age they may not rebuild. They may not have a son or a daughter or a young couple on that ranch and that’s troubling to me. This industry is so important to the state. I want to do everything to preserve it.”

So he and his counterparts in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado are asking that the federal program which helped during the drought remain in place for this problem.

While they wait for an answer the rest of us can ponder what the eventual impact of all this will be at the supermarket. Goicochea has his own idea.

“An increase at the grocery store is most likely because of this stuff with supply and demand. It’s going to take a couple of years to work that through.”