The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved an emergency application that lets ranchers from Curry County graze their livestock on federal lands.
Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall on Monday wrote a letter seeking emergency grazing rights in 11 counties because of severe drought that has left little forage for the livestock.
The New Mexico Democrats say Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack quickly approved their request for Curry County, opening more than 150,000 acres of federal land to grazing. The senators say they hope approval for other counties will be forthcoming.
The senators have also asked for emergency grazing rights for ranchers in Colfax, Union, Harding, Quay, Guadalupe, De Baca, Roosevelt, Lea, Torrance, and Santa Fe counties.