Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
In Louisiana marshlands, ranchers struggle after losing hundreds of cattle to Hurricane Isaac
In August, the ranchlands spreading over the boot of Louisiana were dotted with hundreds of cows and calves grazing on a smorgasbord of tall marsh grasses. But Hurricane Isaac took all that away, turning some of the best cattle country on the Mississippi River delta into brackish, foul-smelling floodwater stretching for miles. A lot of the livestock raised here by a handful of ranching families drowned in Isaac’s storm surge along with birds, snakes and other wildlife. The storm overwhelmed weak levees protecting this farm country south of New Orleans. “It’s heart-breaking,” said Charmion Delesdermier Cosse, a third-generation rancher with about 300 mother cows in Citrus Lands. “This year was probably the best calf crop we’ve seen in a long time.” South Louisiana’s cattle industry consists mostly of pockets of ranchers along the coast sandwiched between the Mississippi and Texas borders. Almost all of them raise calves to be sold to others to be fattened for market. It is a region with its own flair. A Louisiana a cowpoke is just as likely to work the herd by airboats as four-wheelers, and graze cattle in cane brakes and gooey marshes — unlike brethren in Texas or further out West who ride herd on the dry, high plains. The lowland cattle are different too, a derivation of the heat-tolerant and bug-resistant hump-backed Brahman cattle found in India. The animals are striking to come across in the open marshes, standing like water buffalo up to their necks in the wetlands. For centuries, Cajuns of French ancestry and Spaniards wintered cattle in the bountiful marsh country rimming the Gulf of Mexico. In summers, to beat the stifling heat, they would send the herds northward to Louisiana’s upland plains and pines...more