Michael Patrick – Project Director, New Mexico State University – Cooperative Extension Service
The goal of the Navajo Rancher Sustainability Project was to increase rancher profitability and sustainability by reducing producer production, marketing, financial and legal risk. To achieve this, the project conducted 47 workshops with over 1,000 ranchers in attendance; held 6 USDA and Navajo Nation resource fairs with 253 ranchers and community members in attendance; provided technical assistance to 112 ranchers on a range of management/operations issues; and helped 117 ranchers complete their BIA Eastern Navajo Agency conservation plans – a requirement to hold a valid grazing permit – which in-turn, is a requirement for applying for assistance under most USDA (NRCS, FSA, RMA) programs.
Workshop topics included: adopting improved rangeland management practices and monitoring protocols; adopting improved herd (cattle, sheep, goats) health practices; developing ranch management and marketing plans; adopting improved recording keeping and financial analysis for monitoring ranch operations; and knowing the application requirements for applying for USDA and Navajo Nation program resources and services.
Over 95% of the ranchers completing project activity “satisfaction surveys” said the information received was “very helpful” and 100% said they planned to use the information to improve their ranching operations.
As a result of this project 64 ranchers learned to reduce production risk by improving the quality of the rangeland through the implementation of rangeland management monitoring protocols; 52 learned to reduce marketing risk through the development and use of marketing plans; 48 learned to reduce financial risk through the use of record keeping, financial analysis and business planning; 85 learned to reduce their financial risk and improved their profitability through the use of ranch management plans; and 103 learned practices for improving animal and herd health.
“I didn’t know why I had to do a conservation plan or how to do one. Now I understand.”
Another rancher said …. “Now that I have my grazing permit, I am going to see the NRCS official in Crownpoint about help with fencing.”