The ranch that matters most but isn’t real |

The ranch that matters most but isn’t real

C.J. Mucklow

Special to the Pilot & Today

Routt County is home to many famous ranches, but there’s one you need to know about that doesn’t even exist, except on paper.

This ranch has been in existence since 1993, runs 250 cows and owns 2,300 acres of grazing land. It also has a federal grazing permit. In 2007, its net profit was $21,000. Because of the cattle cycle and the cost of corn, the ranch isn’t projected to make a profit again until after 2011.

This ranch is part of a group of ranches across the country that’s created by the Texas A&M Agriculture and Food Policy Center (AFPC). AFPC creates these ranches and other farms primarily to show Congress the effects of federal farm policy on America’s farms and ranches. They can test new farm bill concepts at the request of Congress and project the impacts from various policies.

There are 12 beef cattle ranches across the country similar to ours. This also gives us the opportunity to compare ranching in Routt County to a ranch in say, Florida. We can see if we have a comparative advantage or disadvantage in raising beef cattle here versus elsewhere.

So how do we compare? At the end of 2011, our ranch was one of only five ranches that was ranked in the top 25 percent. The other seven are financially worse off than the Routt County ranch. It roughly means that ranching in the intermountain west of Colorado still is competitive with other ranching locations across the country.

So who decides what about this ranch? The ranch decisions are made by a group of real Routt County ranchers. They are Jay Fetcher, Larry Monger, Kurt Frentress, Jim Rossi, Doug Carlson and Wayne Shoemaker. They get together every two years and take their own ranch costs and production and come up with a reasonable average. Of the six panel members, five have participated in the project since its inception in 1993.

This ranch is the most important ranch in the county because it’s used by the federal government to predict the effects of farm policy on real ranches. The ranch’s famous name is COB250.

To see for yourself what our ranch is and how it compares to other ranches, please call the Routt County Extension Office at 879-0825.

Mucklow is the director of the Routt County Cooperative Extension Service Office.

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