Allard, Musgrave Seek Federal Disaster Relief

As ranchers in southeastern Colorado are assessing their losses caused by two major snowstorms, lawmakers are working to procure federal disaster relief money for the area. As the Rocky Mountain News reports, Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave introduced legislation Thursday that would provide funds for ranchers who have lost an estimated 3,500 cattle to the deep snow.

While Musgrave compared the situation to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, FEMA hasn’t yet made an appearance in Colorado. That will require a presidential declaration of a major disaster, which the News reports could come as soon as today.

From the News:

Western lawmakers are pushing to give emergency disaster relief to farmers and ranchers hammered by winter storms.

On the first day of the new congressional session on Thursday, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Loveland, and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, introduced legislation that would give aid to livestock owners who suffered blizzard-related losses in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Colorado, still reeling from back-to-back-to-back winter blasts, is getting fresh snow today even as the eastern half of the United States experiences spring-like weather and confused cherry blossoms already bloom near the White House.

Snow is blamed for the deaths of an estimated 3,500 cattle stranded on rangeland in southeastern parts of the state.
Relief costs have been mounting as the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado National Guard have made emergency hay drops.

State officials are awaiting a presidential declaration, which could happen as early as today, to declare a “major disaster” exists, allowing the state, some local governments and some non-profit groups to get matching funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Allard-Musgrave legislation, co-sponsored by lawmakers from New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas, is meant to bolster that with relief directly to the agriculture industry.

“People back East don’t always appreciate how devastating these types of storms can be to livestock and to the livelihood of farmers and ranchers,” Allard said.

In a release, Musgrave compared the devastation of the blizzards to the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster that ravaged the Gulf Coast.

“Although there has been a concerted effort to save livestock, the devastation of the recent storms is beginning to mount,” Musgrave said. “Ranchers are now getting a glimpse of how significant their losses are as the snow is cleared away.”

“Just as Congress passed legislation to help residents suffering economic losses in the wake of hurricanes throughout the South, I introduced this bill to aid ranchers in our region of the country devastated by back-to-back blizzards,” Musgrave said.

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