U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced a bipartisan land exchange agreement between the University of Arizona (UA) and the United States Forest Service (USFS), which would grant UA ownership of a ranch to be used for its veterinary medicine program.
The bill would facilitate an exchange, with the UA acquiring the 13.3-acre V-V Ranch headquarters near Camp Verde, AZ from the USFS in exchange for an equally-valued parcel of land from Mahan Park owned by the university. The university currently operates the century-old cattle ranch under a special use permit. This legislation would allow the UA to own the ranch’s winter headquarters outright in order to add new buildings and required infrastructure to house students participating in the future UA College of Veterinary Medicine program. The UA plans to hold clinics for community members using the new facilities.
“The V-V Ranch is the perfect place for University of Arizona students to get hands-on experience learning about cattle, ranching, and large animal medicine,” McSally said. “This bipartisan bill will allow the UA to house and train the next generation of large animal veterinarians and expand its community education initiatives.”
Members of the Arizona agricultural community express support for the legislation:
Arizona Cattle Grower’s Association Executive Vice President Gaither Martin: “The Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (ACGA) offers its full support of the proposed exchange between the University of Arizona V Bar V Ranch and the United States Forest Service (USFS) … In addition to the continuing hands-on education student will receive through exchange, the UofA would also be able to expand the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine teaching facility. With funding already available to build the facility, the UofA has a fiduciary responsibility to invest those funds into deeded land as they build the next generation of large animal veterinarians in Arizona.”
Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse: “V-V Ranch and its Agricultural Experiment Station are an extremely important resource for Arizona Agriculture. CALS uses V-V as a real-life research center for everything from cattle husbandry to rangeland management. The data collected from the ranch has helped Arizona’s cattle industry become an even better steward of the land by evaluating grazing techniques, developing better cattle genetics, and how to best maintain land improvements that have a positive impact on cattle and wildlife alike. V-V has proposed an exchange of a portion of its land in Mahan Park for acreage near the ranch’s winter headquarters, the entirety of which is Forest Service Land. This exchange will help V-V make necessary improvements and carry out its duties more effectively. We wholeheartedly support the proposal, and urge that you do the same.”
Yavapai Cattle Growers Association President Larry Parker: “The YCGA see this as an opportunity for the University of Arizona, a Land Grant University, to better perform in its ability to educate not only students but the public and other livestock producers … We see this as a “hands-on” laboratory for students to get practical experience in the management and day-to-day operation of a range livestock operation to better qualify them to get into range livestock production. The U of A College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will benefit from this land exchange as well by giving them the opportunity to host seminars and clinics for cattle producers and for citizens in our local communities in Yavapai County.”
Coconino County Farm Bureau Cattle Growers Association President Benny Aja: “On March 28th, the Coconino County Farm Bureau Cattle Growers Board met and we voted unanimously to support the land exchange involving the V Bar V Ranch and the U.S. Forest Service. As ranchers, we understand the long-term viability for the permittee to make the necessary improvements for the operation of the livestock operation. Since this ranch is owned by the University of Arizona, we also value the important role it can play in demonstrating different grazing techniques, the value of maintaining improvements that have a very positive impact on the wildlife, and we also hope that this ranch can serve as a laboratory to what exactly is needed in the ESA process and perhaps what could be done with only just ‘categorical inclusion.’”