Forbes Billionaires Top US Welfare Ranchers List

“Wait until you see who is on this list!  (Hint, the list includes a big mining company.)  Another great article by Vickery Eckhoff.”  –  Debbie

SOURCE:  The Daily Pitchfork

They’re mega-rich, powerful and on public assistance. [Part IV of an ongoing series on ranchers in the media]

Guess who’s fleecing U.S. taxpayers over nearly one billion dollars in public grazing subsidies?

Americans love ranchers: Gritty ranchers, mom-and-pop ranchers, renegade ranchers — especially those who raise livestock on the vast open prairies of the West through hard work and rugged independence. But there’s another side to the ever-popular rancher mythology— a side the media doesn’t cover and the public never sees.

The Koch brothers, Ted Turner, the Hilton family and nine other powerful ranchers share an uncommon privilege: giant public subsidies, unknown to U.S. taxpayers. It’s the other side of the Cliven Bundy story, the other side of the Wright brothers saga—the bronc-riding, ranching family at the center of the New York Times photographic essay published March 11, 2015. It’s also the other side of the ongoing news feed in which ranchers work to remove wild horses from public lands.

That “other side” of those stories is the federal grazing program that enables the Wrights to run their livestock on public lands for cheap; allows ranchers to have thousands of protected wild horses removed from public lands at public expense. It’s also the program that earned Bundy the title of welfare rancher.

Bundy didn’t earn it by failing to pay his grazing fees, though. The welfare rancher label applies to all ranchers who hold permits to graze the vast public spaces of the West, both delinquent and not. It includes the Wright brothers; the ranchers in Iron and Beaver counties in Utah complaining that wild horses eat too much; and 21,000 others.

They are all welfare ranchers subsidized by US taxpayers, and you know who are the biggest welfare ranchers of all, grazing livestock across hundreds of millions of acres of public grass and forest land, all assisted by public subsidies paid for by US taxpayers?

Billionaires appearing on Forbes rich lists

The .01 percenters are the nation’s biggest welfare ranchers, according to numerous environmental and policy groups; and it’s time they brought some attention to themselves and the federal grazing program they’re exploiting to the tune of an annual estimated one billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies while causing long-term damage to one of the public’s most treasured assets.


6 comments on “Forbes Billionaires Top US Welfare Ranchers List

  1. Of the people named, I recognize Barrick Gold as someone who is opposed to the wild horses. I know Ted Turner is promoting bison as an alternative to beef and supposedly more environmentally friendly. He joined Madeleine Pickens Save America’s Mustangs Board several years ago, so I assume that he is not totally opposed to wild horses. David Koch sponsors a gallery North American fossil animals at the American Museum of Natural History that is close to an exhibit with Equus and the rhino fossil on a single platform, and, at the time I visited, was within 50 to 100 feet of the largest display of fossil horses in the world. All but two of these fossil horses were North American in origin. Each fossil horse is labeled according to when and where it was when recovered. Again, at the time I visited, the AMNH presented both the older version of the linear evolution of the horse, and the newer version where the horse DNA and plant DNA suggest that the horse’s size varied over time depending on the environment that was present at the time. What I found helpful were the large globes that represent the latitude and longitude of the continents during different geological time periods with the land bridges visible and the animals embossed in the areas where they were found during that particular period. Interestingly, the sign to David Koch’s room was the size of a nameplate that might appear on someone’s office door. I would have missed it had I not looked up from where I was. I know he has an interest in paleontology and of all the 1%’rs is most likely to be knowledgeable about the history of the horse in North America.

    The BLM director asked Congress for permission to charge an administrative fee for the time involved in administering the grazing leases. This seems a reasonable way forward for the time being.

    I enjoy Vickery’s writing. Clearly, it was hard to get this information, but I am most interested in identifying those people who are fighting to get our wild horses removed. I think we have to be aware that the campaign against the wild horses has been waged by 1%ers in The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited–both groups purchase devalued land and then sell it to the government or to private land owners who allow them privileges to use it. The Wildlife Society has formed alliances with anglers and hunters who often turn out to be ranchers who do not suspect that TWS is aligned with TNC and other groups that have vilified livestock.

    I think the problem is not the animals as much as it is the failure to properly manage the land. Our ag people punctuate their talks with “Don’t forget to manage your pastures.” They also talk the minimum amount of land one horse needs, and how to manage that minimum amount so that it remains productive. Of course, if you overload the land with any species, the land may suffer. Land management is a science. There are times to treat the land with lime. There are times to mow. Times to graze and times to rest the land. Alternating cattle and horses or allowing both to graze the same land and then rest the land both keep land productive.

    I don’t blame the ranchers. I blame the managers and the scientists that are directing this fiasco who most certainly know that they are destroying the land, but don’t care. They have custom designed the world, and do not give a flip about what happens to mankind after they die and those who come after them have to live with their toxic decisions. This began decades ago—the demonization of the wild horses. They never got a fair shake.

    I am not taking up for Cliven Bundy, but his and his neighbors problems began in 1993. That’s what you need to keep in your head because there is nothing coincidental about this date.


  2. Vickery has truly gone to bat for our Wild Horses & Burros
    Her articles have helped to bring public attention to what is being done to them.
    For any readers who haven’t followed this story, here are a few excerpts.

    Cliven Bundy Ended My Forbes Gig
    April 29, 2014
    Vickery Eckhoff

    So, the word is out.
    On Friday, April 25, 2014, at 10:39 PM, after a great run publishing 23 articles and three photo galleries on horse slaughter, horse racing and wild horses on, the powers that be cut me loose.

    Not quite sure why. A few people have suggested it may be on account of Steve Forbes keeping cattle on his New Jersey estate to reduce his property taxes. Others have mentioned Forbes partnership with FOX News.

    Whatever prompted the decision, however, there was urgency behind it, coming the night before I was a featured speaker at the American Equine Summit, along with Victoria McCullough, Frank Biden and Senator Joe Abruzzo, and too many other national experts to mention. (See Victoria’s presentation here).

    My editor, Jane Lee, who’s been very supportive and great, sent an email requesting some edits to a story—Federal Grazing Program in Bundy Dispute Rips Off Taxpayers, Wild Horses—that went live Friday afternoon.
    This story got more views in a single day than any story I’ve written to date, BTW. Within a day, it reached 26,000 views and I’m told the link got more than 70,000 views on Cloud the Stallion’s Facebook page.

    My article covered some of the same territory that Paul Krugman of The New York Times, Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, and Jon Stewart addressed for millions of viewers. The only difference is that mine exposed why the grazing program was not only a bad deal for tax payers, but wild horses. Oh, and I got the boot while they got ratings!

    For some reason, my story rattled Forbes’ corporate cage and hours later, without so much as a phone call, Forbes pulled the plug. These were the first edits I’d been asked to make in more than two years, I made them as requested in a timely manner and notified them that I had done so. The topic was hardly controversial.


  3. WOW…this stuff is much deeper and bigger than I could ever imagine…makes my head spin. How does one even begin to fight for the horses… with all that power and $$ belonging to the other side/s?? This article explains a lot…thank you Vickery.


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