Horse News

Obama Proposes Public Lands Grazing Fee Increase

Information supplied by the Cloud Foundation

Wild Horses Cost Taxpayers Virtually nothing on Federal Lands

Private "Welfare Cattle" being herded onto BLM Antelope Complex while Wild Horse roundup was being conducted ~ photo by Terry Fitch

COLO. SPRINGS, CO (Feb. 16, 2012) – The Obama Administration proposal to increase public land grazing fees from the regulatory minimum will do little to match the administrative costs of the program according to the Colorado-based, Cloud Foundation (TCF). The fee would increase by $1.00 per month for a cow/calf pair or five head of sheep. TCF has long advocated for a dramatic increase in the fees for “welfare” livestock ranching on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service lands.

“Fees would have to increase by an impossible 600% just to match the administrative costs of the public lands grazing program,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “We continue to request a reduction in the destructive overgrazing of livestock on public lands and to allocate a fair share of forage for wild horses and other wildlife.”
Livestock grazing covers over two-thirds of BLM maintained land while wild horses occupy only 11% of these lands and are outnumbered by cattle and sheep by as much as 100 to 1. The grazing program costs $144 million annually to administer while netting only $21 million per year, leaving taxpayers to foot a yearly  $123 million bill.
“My lessees near Maybell, Colorado on the Western Slope, pay 10 times more than what public land permittees pay,” states Lyn McCormick, a horse and buffalo producer in northern Colorado. “Here on the Eastern Slope of Colorado it’s even higher, ranging from between $20 – $40 per cow/calf pair per month—a far cry from what permittees pay, which does not begin to cover the cost of the effects of overgrazing and the degradation of the public lands.”
BLM is currently conducting six Rapid Ecoregional Assessment (REAs) studies across the West, but eliminated livestock grazing from scientific evaluation due to “anxiety from ‘stakeholders,’ fear of litigation, and lack of available data on grazing impacts” according to Public Employees for Environment Responsibility (PEER), a government watchdog group representing the public interest.
“How can you do any credible study of public land health without looking at the impacts caused by the single largest user?” asks Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and author of the just released The Wild Horse Conspiracy. “What happened to the pledge of transparency from the Obama Administration and the application of science-based decisions?”
It is estimated that 2-3 million head of livestock graze on public lands, resulting in less than 3-4% of the nation’s total beef output. Public lands livestock permittees currently pay $1.35 per AUM (a cow/calf pair or five sheep per month) to graze on public lands—the regulatory minimum according to standards set by the Public Rangelands Improvement Act (PRIA).
In the early 1990’s, former President Clinton’s Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, attempted to raise public land grazing fee but was met by staunch opposition from the livestock producers and the Administration withdrew the increase.

14 replies »

  1. but eliminated livestock grazing from scientific evaluation due to “anxiety from ‘stakeholders,’ fear of litigation, and lack of available data on grazing impacts” according to Public Employees for Environment Responsibility (PEER), a government watchdog group representing the public interest.

    I am tired of being asked to pretend that Stupid is a virtue.

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    • well, if there is a lack of data on the grazing allotments..how is it they can say there is not forage for wild horses, BLM employees have testified under oath they rarely get out into wild horse HMAs due to the remoteness..Fact is there is a swamp full of scientific data accumulated by WWP. collected by volunteers..not tax payer employed BLM officials..just what are these people who work for the BLM doing anyway to justify getting a paycheck? My suggestion..turn BLM into a all volunteer force of stakeholders

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      • Good question. Blm’s deficit spending to exterminate the wild horses just does not pencil out. If the land can support all those cows it certainly can support wild horses in their natural state. Just think about how much of our federal tax dollars would be saved, along with our wild horses! I agree, BLM needs to be turned into something, but certainly not stake holders. They need to get out of the horse and cattle management business period!

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  2. I concur that stupid is no virtue. The BLM must be feeling a lot of pressure in an election year to make things look “fair” to all parties. Hogwash and hayseed to that fake out!

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      • The Secretary of Interior is appointed. President Obama appointed Secretary Salazar, and if we should elect a different president in November, it is possible, even probable, that we would have a different Secretary of Interior.

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  3. I know that we must be respectful of the process, but the President can propose anything he wants in a budget that he is sure will never see the light of day as long as the Senate is under its current leadership, and if he has a wink wink nod nod with public lands ranchers, they will play along with him. Though they claim to support Republican platforms, it is hard to imagine any Republican administration that has given Ranchers more of what they want.

    As long as Senator Reid manages to keep the President out of hot water in the Senate, the President can stay out of the rough.

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  4. I just watched George Knapp’s commentary regarding Ms. Picken’s Elko ranch for wild horses. Maybe someone out there can explain how the TAXPAYERS BLM can have “no comment”.
    So, I admit I’ve been oblivious to this plight but just a few questions here: ?Is there a BLM “board” that makes these decisions? ?How many cattle ranchers are on this committee or board? (Clearly a conflict of interest). ?A group of previous BLM workers are now “housing” wild horses (obviously a lot of money involved) and did they quit their government jobs to pursue this line of work? ?How many “good ol boys” are involved in this scam? Okay, so just too many questions. Maybe we can get George to do a little investigative reporting? What the heck? I’m so confused.

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  5. Why don’t the ranchers not getting to be “welfare ranchers” complain more? It seems like they should. They don’t get any breaks on their cost per head, they have to maintain their own cattle & lands & see their market affected by “welfare ranchers” ability to lower pricing due to less overhead. How can this be fair to them? While I wouldn’t want to ally myself to the beef industry, I do feel beef growers(gross) have reason to stand against welfare ranching & horse slaughter because both effect their livelyhood.

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  6. I understand it is a comfort to some, to blame the Republicans . The facts as I see them are Bush rounded up too many wild horses. Obama promised change . Obama has sided with the cattle, and mining interest to clear public land of wild horses and burros. Obama appointed Salazar a friend , rancher /farmer, and democrat. Salazar said before being appointed ,there is no room for wild horses and burros on public land. Why do you think he was appointed? Salazar is doing what he was appointed to accomplish. If I lived in New Mexico I would vote for Congressman Griv (D), if I lived in Louisiana I would vote for Senator Landrieu (D). Living in California I did not vote for Boxer (D) , this Nov. I will not vote for Feinsten (D), they both support and vote for anything the BLM asks. An aide in Feinsten’s office told me last year, Feinsten wants a finale solution to the wild horse problem . Feinstein said several years ago she would protect the burros living in the Mojave. She did nothing. Most of the burros are gone.

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    • I don’t disagree with much you posted, BUT I do disagree on a few points.

      Salazar was promised a cabinet position in the potential Obama administration to bring in Colorado for Obama….no matter the ethical cost and he (Slaughterczar)…did it and was rewarded. He is necessary (indictment of our democracy) for the reelection of Obama as Colorado is a swing state. Bad news, good news…good news? If Obama gets reelected, Slaughterczar could be fired. As a lameduck President, he could keep his promises from 2008.

      Bad news, again…..the Dems stink at ethical behavior as much as Republicans…..not all, but many.

      And where is Congress spending their time? Running for reelection, hellbent on defeating Obama and contraception. What a collection of waste!

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      • Denise,
        What in the President’s behavior gives you any reason to think for one second that he has the intention of keeping any of the promises he made in 2008? He is doing exactly what he intended to do. He knew who Ken Salazar was when he put him in that spot. He knows who Harry Reid is. He needs them. They need him. What we have is a co-dependent triumvirate running our country.

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