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Limited Rain, Snow Tough on Cattle

January 5, 2000

PHOENIX (AP) _ Ranchers throughout the West are putting out feed, hauling water and moving cattle to feedlots to cope with what is shaping up as another warm, dry winter.

Cattle raisers say the current weather shouldn’t immediately harm cattle, especially since summer rains in some areas produced ample feed. But there could be trouble come spring.

``What’s scary is if we don’t get a lot of winter moisture, the spring feed will be very limited because the fall has been so dry,″ said Arizona rancher Judy Prosser.

Prosser has moved 900 cattle from her property between Flagstaff and Winslow, Ariz., to a feedlot in Phoenix to rest the land.

Rainfall has been sparse in many parts of the West, with near-record dryness in southern New Mexico and parts of Montana.

Jupe Means, a rancher near Mule Creek, N.M., called the spring and summer one of the worst droughts he has seen.

In Arizona, all but two of 17 areas tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture had below-average precipitation in 1999. Most of Arizona’s rain came in the summer, with next to none coming in the last 3 months, ranchers said.

Barbara Marks, who ranches about 25 miles south of Alpine, Ariz., said the area has received some snow in the new year.

``Every little bit counts. But we had not had any measurable moisture since September,″ she said.

Marks said she and her family are making sure stock tanks and springs are kept filled. They also purchased additional hay and vitamin-rich food supplements in case grazing lands aren’t sufficient.

Even as far north as Wyoming, lack of rainfall is a concern.

``Water is a huge issue,″ said Dick Loper, a rangeland consultant for the Wyoming State Grazing Board.

Normally, ranchers can rely on snow to provide water for livestock, he said. He added that ranchers will likely be hauling a lot more this year.


BARRYTON, Mich. (AP) _ For a couple from Mecosta County, Mich., living next to a factory-style hog farm has been a real stinker.

For Lester and Linda Cramer, the arrival of the High Lean Pork company in 1997 marked the end of a pleasant home.

``When the smell is bad, you don’t go outside,″ Linda said. ``The smell takes your breath away.″

The Cramers and four of their neighbors had the property taxes on their homes reduced 35 percent last month by the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

They will appeal to extend the property-tax reduction to include their land as well.

The concern by neighbors is equal to that of environmental groups, who see the possibility of harm to the land, air, and most importantly, the water.

With about 2,500 hogs on the farm, the amount of waste can make hot, summer days unbearable outdoors. The waste is stored in lagoons, before being sprayed upon the surrounding fields.

Louis McNeilly sold some of his property to the company and is still a neighbor to the plant. He said he can see the operation from his house.

He said he smells the waste from the hog farm about three or four times a year. He has 250 head of cattle on his dairy farm.

``We have odors,″ McNeilly said. ``We just have to live with it.″

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