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Reservation rancher program wins federal grant

Posted 12/21/2009

Photo of cows being herded

Money will help tribal farmers, ranchers with projects, new technologies

Robert Mills

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension received a $300,000 grant in December from Federal Department of Agriculture to support disadvantaged farmers and ranchers throughout the state. The grant is part of a USDA initiative to encourage rural economic growth by increasing small business contracting in those areas.

Funding will benefit UNCE’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers program, which aids the Duck Valley, Pyramid Lake and Walker River tribes.

Randy Emm, Indian reservation program coordinator for Cooperative Extension, said the grant will provide funding that was not there before.

"Farmers will receive a 90 percent cost share to complete practices and 30 percent up-front money," Emm said. "For something like a pipeline project, a rancher can buy all the piping needed. It’s probably the best program we’ve seen in a while."

Emm said funding will help small-track, reservation ranchers who cannot apply for the same financial benefits nonreservation ranchers receive.

"On reservation land, most of the funding has to come out of the farmer’s pocket, and they have to have it up front" Emm said. “A person has to put in on the project and then get reimbursed, and they might not have the money to do it.”

UNCE’s assistance program helps reservation ranchers start a project from the ground up.

“A lot of people don’t know how to apply for these practices, or once they apply, they might not be sure of how to implement them,” Emm said. “We help them start up and run an agricultural operation.”

With the addition of more modern tools like laser-guided hydraulic levelers, and instruction in fencing, pipelines and other land-management practices, Emm said the program will advance the efforts of reservation farmers and ranchers.

“The overall intent is to maximize the efficient usage of available natural recourses by utilizing new technologies available,” Emm said.

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