Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, has put his share of a southern Utah cattle company up for sale to avoid any conflict of interest, Owens staff members said Tuesday.

Federal law prohibits members of Congress from being a party to contracts or agreements with federal agencies or the U.S. government, he said.The livestock operation, the Boulder Ranching Co., holds Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service grazing permits on lands in southern Utah.

An attorney representing the House determined the grazing leases "might be covered by that prohibition," Owens said, "and he subsequently provided me with an informal opinion that such appears to be the case."

"Accordingly, I will undertake immediately to sell my partnership," Owens said. "I regret I did not learn of this apparent conflict earlier."

The grazing permits, Owens said, "predated by nearly 10 years my return to the House of Representatives. I have had no personal involvement with any application or other contracts with the federal agencies relating to those permits since my election to the House."