Efforts to develop Guam’s agricultural industry could receive a much-needed boost, if 64 acres of military land that has been tentatively identified as a potential grazing site is officially cleared for such civilian use.
Guam Del. Michael San Nicolas had contacted the Joint Army Region Marianas to identify Department of Defense properties in Guam for cattle grazing.
“In our pursuit of lower meat prices and greater food security, we engaged JRM to identify sustainable ranching areas on federal lands to support a slaughterhouse operation in Guam,” said San Nicholas.
Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson has identified an initial 64 acres of federal DoD land suitable for grazing.
“These initial 64 acres have not only proven to be available, but have also proven suitable, as no parcel of land is usable for grazing purposes, and we are grateful to JRM for taking the additional steps to ensure that the end goal is achievable with the lands they identify.
Additionally, according to a letter sent from Nicholson to San Nicolas, once site analysis was completed for the Missile Defense Agency’s efforts to provide 360-degree missile defense coverage for the island, other properties could be identified in more detail.
“A comprehensive review of available land has been carried out and two potential plots have been identified. One plot is 45 acres and can support up to 22 head of cattle (by USDA standards), and the other is 19 acres and can support up to 10 head of cattle. While there are other significant DoD properties in Guam, JRM has focused on properties suitable for cattle grazing,” Nicholson wrote in San Nicholas.
The larger parcel is part of an existing airfield, so it is also subject to additional Federal Aviation Administration requirements and restrictions.
“For example, concentrated feedlots and similar operations are identified by the FAA as incompatible due to increased bird/aircraft collision risks associated with higher density lots of livestock. The 19-acre patch may be too small for commercial ranching,” Nicholson wrote.
San Nicolas is calling on local government to similarly review local government land assets to see what land could be used “to build grazing capacity to support our community with local meat products.”
“The people of Guam thank Admiral Nicholson and the JRM team for helping us achieve the goal of greater food sustainability and lower meat prices, and look forward to further progress. with our DOD partners in this regard,” he said.
(Daily shift staff)