Cattlemen Claim Taxpayers Losing Out

Several Saunders County cattlemen said their request to lease government land shouldn't be put out to pasture. They claim the army training ground could earn taxpayers thousands of dollars instead of costing money to maintain.

Farmer Mike Heldt of Yutan said, “We can’t understand why they don’t put it out for bid to the local people so we can make money off it and they can make money off of it.”

The 960 acres are located about a half hour west of Omaha and owned by the U.S. Army Reserve and managed by the Corps of Engineers.

One cattleman said the ground used to be leased to three farmers up until about five years ago. Merle Fick can’t understand why the government stopped leasing the land. Merle said, “The government isn’t making a dime on it but could be making some money and helping everybody out.”

It’s estimated the harvesting of grass and alfalfa on the 960 acres could save up to $150,000 a year on feed costs for a large herd of cattle. Instead neighbors have to use corn stalks and truck in feed.

They also said volunteer elm trees are taking over the land. Instead of paying for upkeep they cattlemen said the government should lease them the land and make thousands of dollars in rent.

An Army Reserve public affairs captain in Des Moines told Six On Your Side take the issue up the chain of command to find out why the government stopped leasing the land.

He said the Army is willing to open a dialog with the neighboring cattlemen.

Neighbors said they've only seen the ground used for parachute landings.

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