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    Friday, April 19, 2019-2:52:47A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Senator urges DPL to help Tinian cattle ranchers

SENATE Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider is requesting the Department of Public Lands to help the cattle ranchers on Tinian by reconsidering its plan to charge them a $25 fee per hectare.

In his letter to DPL Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo, Hofschneider recommended a flat rate of $500 for a period of 10 years for the cattle ranchers.

Jude Hofschneider

He also asked DPL to increase the size of agriculture grazing lots to 25 hectares and exclude grazing lots from the commercial use rate.

In an interview on Wednesday, Hofschneider said he is reaching out to DPL to air the sentiments of Tinian Cattlemen’s Association members who will “suffer” if DPL imposes a $25 per hectare fee and a commercial rate.

He echoed the cattle ranchers’ concern, saying that such fees “remain expensive and prohibitive and the size limit which is 5 hectares is unreasonable.”

Ranchers also have to pay a $225 application fee annually, he added.

For a 25-hectare farm, for example, the cattle-rancher would have to pay a total of $850. This amount, according to the cattle ranchers, is higher than the cost of an adult cow.

The cattle-ranchers said if DPL decides to charge them the commercial land use rate for grazing lands over 5 hectare, the fee assessments would be “unsustainable and may have a tremendous impact on an already fragile Tinian cattle industry.”

Hofschneider said “it’s not proper to treat subsistence rancher the way DPL would treat a casino hotel investor.”

He added, “Tinian families raise cattle as a way to feed their immediate and extended families. In fact, most ranchers come from families with generations of cattle-ranching experience. Basically, the culture of cattle-ranching was passed on from their fathers and their grandfather before them.”

Tinian Cattlemen’s Association president Jose M. Dela Cruz said there is an “unfortunate misunderstanding” between their group and DPL about cattle production space requirements.

DPL, he said, wants to limit grazing lot sizes to 5 hectares, based on a “misguided definition” of subsistence cattle ranching.

Dela Cruz said it takes two years for a cow to reach breeding age or slaughter size, so 5 hectares is not enough to allow for a sustainable production of beef based on a 1-cow-per-hectare stocking density.

Such a small pasture does not allow for rotational grazing, and will surely result in overgrazing, diminished animal quality, and damage to the pasture, while limiting the quality and quantity of beef that can be harvested, Dela Cruz added.