Inside The Story: Somalian Refugees Bring Goat Herding to the Utah Economy
(KUTV) Somalian refugees are trying to grow the economy with goat ranches in Salt Lake.
A recent goat birth excited Somalian refugees on a ranch just last week. Their hope is to turn the goat farm into a more profitable business particularly for other refugees.
The goats are used to get rid of unwanted weeds and grasses on open land.
"We see our future here," said Ismael Mohamed, a refugee and goat herder.
The refugees come from three different tribes or communities in Somalia. In their country, raising and eating goats is a regular part of life.
"We don’t see anybody here have the goats," Gustave Degratiasi, another refugee said.
Kennecott Copper, Utah State University’s Work Force Services and the LDS Church are changing that.
They’ve introduced what’s called the East African Goat Project. They start by bringing goats on Kennecott Land.
"We can apply herbicides, we can use mechanical means, but both of those provide quite an impact to the environment,” said John Birkinshaw, Kennecott Land resource manager. “Using goats as another tool is much more sustainable."
Birkinshaw said UDOT did a project north on Legacy Highway recently where they had to import 2,000 goats from Texas to clear land.
The Somalians' ranch currently has 75 goats. Each refugee has a job elsewhere and is only volunteering their time at the ranch. They've been working for about two years and plan to have hundreds in another two years. Once they have 500 or more goats, the ranching becomes a full-time job.
"It makes me have more faith to see the future," Mohamed said.
You can celebrate World Refugee Day with these ranchers this Saturday, June 7 at Liberty Park.
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Reporter: Dan Rascon
Produced by: Kelsey Koenen Witt
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting.)