Federal Public Land Grazing Fee Drops 11% , Further Undervaluing Public Lands

According to Western Watersheds Project, yesterday federal public lands management agencies slashed grazing fees by 11% on 220 million acres of America’s public lands – including within some designated Wilderness areas. Below is the WWP press release. – mk

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The public lands management agencies announced the grazing fee for federal allotments today, which the federal government has decreased to a mere $1.87 per cow and her calf (or 5 sheep) per month, known as an Animal Unit Month, or AUM.

“This has got to be the cheapest all-you-can-eat buffet deal in the country,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Our public lands are a national treasure that should be protected for future generations with responsible stewardship. It makes no sense to rent them to ranchers for below-market prices to prop up a dying industry that degrades soil productivity, water, wildlife habitat, and the health of the land.”

Two hundred and twenty million acres of public lands in the West are used for private livestock industry profits through the management of approximately 22,000 grazing permits. The low fee leaves the federal program at an overwhelming deficit. This year’s fee is a a decrease of 11 percent from last year’s fee of $2.11 per AUM far less than the average cost for private lands grazing leases. The fee is calculated using a decades-old formula that takes into account the price of fuel and the price of beef, and this year’s fee falls far below the level of $2.31 per AUM that was charged in 1980. Additionally, the fee doesn’t cover the cost to taxpayers of range infrastructure, erosion control, vegetation manipulation, and government predator killing – all indirect subsidies that expand the program’s total deficit.

“The subsidy to public lands livestock grazers just got bigger,” Molvar said. “It’s a totally unjustified handout that persists for purely political reasons, with little or no benefit to Americans.”

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One Comment

  1. I think before commenting on public grazing or private grazing, a little homework should be done.
    Carrying capacity is generally much lower on public lads. Predator control would be a nice perk, but I haven’t seen it in 20+ years, even though I’ve lost 2 animals so far this season at $1000 a head gross return, not factoring in the replacement cost. Cattle prices are sitting at $1.10-$1.20 /pound here right now, in 1990-91 they were at $1.00-$1.10/pound, if you factor inflation, we’re losing ground. Fuel was $0.75/gallon for diesel now it’s $2.65/gallon.
    The cattle at least in the cascades actually kept the brush down and increased forage for elk and deer, in areas that have been shut down the elk and deer populations appear to be down, but F&W would be the place for the actual numbers. Elk numbers in general have increased in the PNW.

    Should talk about the fuel load reduction in grazing allotments vs. closed out areas, a simple walk can tell the story? This is another case of knee jerk reaction followed by unintended consequences. Proper management of grazing allotments would be the best improvement, not more close outs by the agencies or abuses by the users.

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