How Welfare Ranchers Take Taxpayers for a Ride

Source:  Pacific Standard

How Welfare Ranchers Take Taxpayers for a Ride

Ranchers on BLM land have 94 percent of their grazing costs covered by taxpayers. And they target wild horses for removal in order to preserve the rangeland that makes this financial windfall possible.
                      
(Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)
Congress is expected to vote sometime this week on an omnibus-spending bill that includes a proposal to kill wild horses captured from public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and re-open horse slaughterhouses that were shut down in 2007. Should the main backer of this proposal—Congressman Chris Stewart (R-Utah)—get the required votes, 46,000 wild mustangs, and untold numbers of domestic horses, would be slaughtered.

Based on the claim that wild horses overgraze Western landscapes, the BLM routinely removes them and places them in temporary holding facilities—mostly in Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico—before moving the horses to permanent corrals. By closing these facilities and opting to put down the horses, backers of the bill note taxpayers will save $10 million a year. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke supports the measure on account of its fiscal belt-tightening.But that $10 million in savings requires some context. Ranchers leasing BLM land cost taxpayers an estimated $500 million a year (and probably much more—some say a billion dollars). According to Stephen Nash’s Grand Canyon for Sale, about 15,000 ranchers receive a $33,000 from the federal government annually.

This windfall of this bill comes in the form of radically reduced leasing fees (that some ranchers, such as Cliven Bundy, refuse to pay altogether). The cost of grazing cattle on privately owned land in the West is $21.60. BLM ranchers pay $1.41 per animal unit month (AUM), the amount of monthly forage eaten by a cow and her calf. In essence, ranchers on BLM land have 94 percent of their grazing costs covered by taxpayers. “Welfare ranchers,” as critics call them, target wild horses for removal in order to preserve the rangeland that makes this program possible.*

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13 comments on “How Welfare Ranchers Take Taxpayers for a Ride

  1. Achieving justice for our wild horses and burros depends on BLM officials exercising their authority to legally reduce private, private/corporate, domestic livestock grazing in the wild horse and burros’ legal areas, whether on BLM or USFS lands. Such exercise would be legally covered under 43 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) 4710.3-2 and 43 C.F.R 4710.5(a). In particular, 43 C.F.R. 4710.5 clearly states that the Bureau of Land Management can legally reduce livestock grazing in order “to provide habitat for wild horses or burros.”
    § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.
    (a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.

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  2. Since Congress is concerned with the cost of long-term holding of wild horses and burros, and our public lands, please allow me to remind you that these wild horses and burros already have legal lands in the wild for them to live on which cost the tax-payer nothing. In contrast, private/corporate livestock grazing on public lands has cost the taxpayers $1 Billion over past decade. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported the federal government spends at least $144 million each year managing private livestock grazing on federal public lands, but collects only $21 million in grazing fees—for a net LOSS of at least $123 million per year.

    https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2015/grazing-01-28-2015.html

    Liked by 2 people

    • GG, another aspect of this is that while there are of course “some” costs of managing wild horses and burros on public lands, these same lands are also legally “multiple use” so are not exclusive to wild horses and burros. In other words, these same lands garner income from recreational use and other legal means like mineral, timber, and grazing leases. Yes these are controversial and some harmful and costly to taxpayers, but my point is there is income, not just costs, on the public lands which are shared by wild horses and burros. To my knowledge no places where they remain allowed to exist are not shared by other users.

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      • Unfortunately, Icey, the big picture is that other “uses” are overwhelming these areas, and wild horses and burros are left with very little of what were intended to be their federally protected areas.

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      • Understood — but think it’s important to recognize they are not exclusive users of their legal homelands, and impacts are necessarily difficult to isolate, as well as income from all sorts of users, including those visiting the wild horses and burros. The Sand Wash HMA in Colorado, for instance, has an AML listed at 163-362, yet also hosts up 5,000 sheep most of the fall and winter, as well as an area where OTV trails lace the sandy desert hills. All produce impacts as well as income, but which brings in how much, and which costs what? People come from all over the world to see the wild horses here, and the tiny town of Maybell, CO nearby welcomes their business in their single gas station/convenience store.

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    • Hopefully you’ll See RT Fitchs post about the real cost of “Welfare Ranchers”
      the yearly (base) cost is $33,000.00 they also are fiction writers at least some of them having problems that cost them alot of money and other things like that, so the gov’t re mburses them but really this all must stop as Anne Walton, and the Koch bros. pioneer woman ree drummond are mostly mmillionaire+billionaires, we just can’t afford them, certainly we can do better than this, we the taxpayers must refuse to get sucked into this rat race anymore, and the horses certainly don’t deserve to be stockpiled by the likes of ms. drummonds MACHO husband, which we also have to bank role,

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      • Ree and Ladd Drummond own a lot of land, so they are not public lands ranchers (“welfare ranchers”), but they are paid by the BLM to warehouse wild horses on their private property.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I work and live on 20 THOUSAND A YEAR taking care of myself and another person and never been on wefare why should the wefare ranchers get 33,00. I had to work 2 jobs to get that till I got layoff a few years ago. Just a bunch of crooks ranchers and blm. Wild horses and burros need to be free now and left alone.

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  4. WORTH REREADING AND REPEATING

    For Immediate Release: Oct 06, 2016
    Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
    LIVESTOCK LAND ABUSE RAMPANT ON PUBLIC RANGE

    New BLM Figures Show Little Progress in Healing Lands Degraded by Overgrazing

    Posted on Oct 06, 2016 | Tags: BLM, Grazing Reform

    Washington, DC — New federal figures indicate that vast expanses of the Sagebrush West remain in degraded conditions due to excessive commercial livestock grazing. These U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) assessments measuring how well federal rangelands are protected from damaging overgrazing had been discontinued but were restored to resolve an administrative complaint pursued by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

    Covering the period from 2013 through 2015, the restored data reflects the number and land area of grazing allotments that are meeting or failing to meet rangeland health standards across 150 million acres in 13 Western states – a total land area approaching that of the entire State of Texas. They reveal that –

    More than one-third of these federal rangelands – some 59 million acres or an area about the size of Oregon – have never been assessed. Moreover, the rate of acreage being assessed in these years has fallen by more than half. At the current rate, it would take nearly 20 years to complete the assessments, by which time most previous assessments (which began in 1998) would be outdated;
    Of total acres assessed by 2015, more than one-third fail to meet BLM’s own Standards for Rangeland Health reflecting minimum quality of water, vegetation and soils, as well as the ability to support wildlife – a total of 40 million acres, approximately the area of Washington State. The overwhelming portion (more than 70%) of range health failure is due to livestock overgrazing in allotments covering more than 30 million acres, an area the size of New York State; and
    Both annual and cumulative totals over these three years show little improvement, including millions of overgrazed acres where BLM admits “no appropriate action has been taken to ensure significant progress toward meeting the standard.”

    “No wonder BLM does not want to display these figures, as they paint a grim picture,” stated PEER Advocacy Director Kirsten Stade, noting that these numbers may be underestimates as they are based on BLM’s own self appraisals which, in many cases, are more than a decade old and count lands “making significant progress toward meeting the standards” together with lands fully meeting standards, thus further obscuring actual on-the-ground conditions. “Even a rosy reading of these numbers suggests that BLM is a lousy landlord for America’s rangelands.”

    BLM had suspended its Rangeland Health displays after 2012 claiming that it was developing new data reporting and mapping methodologies. By this year however, BLM was unable to produce any documents describing its efforts to improve range data collection in response to a PEER Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed after the agency failed to answer its request about the status of these efforts. Moreover, the agency rebuffed PEER suggestions that its range health methodology undergo independent peer review.

    “It does not require rocket science to track the damage done by grazing cattle,” added Stade, pointing to an online Grazing Data Interactive Map developed by PEER, which displays data from BLM’s Land Health Status record system overlaid with high-resolution satellite imagery, permitting users to eyeball current land conditions. “Back in 1995, a network of BLM range specialists called for major reform of the agency’s livestock program in the very first ‘white paper’ issued by PEER. Unfortunately, it appears that little has changed in the last twenty years.”

    ###

    Look at BLM cumulative range health figures for 2013-15
    https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/blm/10_6_16_Cumulative_Accomplishments.pdf

    See BLM annual “accomplishments” for the years 2013-15
    https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/blm/10_6_16_Annual_Accomplishments.pdf

    Revisit PEER complaint that forced restoration of range health figures
    https://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/blm-agrees-to-beef-up-livestock-range-condition-reports.html

    View official admission that BLM has not developed improved methods of reporting
    https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/blm/10_6_16_BLM_admission.pdf

    Try out interactive PEER grazing database
    https://www.peer.org/campaigns/public-lands/public-lands-grazing-reform/

    Read 1995 grazing reform white paper by BLM employees
    https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/whitepapers/1995_public_trust_betrayed.pdf

    SOURCE: https://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/livestock-land-abuse-rampant-on-public-range.html

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  5. US land managers designate grazing projects in 6 West states
    ELKO DAILY Mar 27, 2018

    The Bureau of Land Management have designated 11 demonstration projects in six Western states in a bid to create more flexibility for grazing livestock on public range.
    “Farmers and ranchers know the wildlife and the land they work better than anyone; it only makes sense that we would enlist them in conservation efforts,” said Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in launching the program.
    The goal of outcome-based grazing authorizations, which were announced in September 2017, is to allow BLM managers and livestock operators to respond to changing, on-the-ground conditions such as wildfires, high moisture years, or drought. This will better ensure healthy rangelands, wildlife habitat, and economically sustainable ranching operations, the BLM reported.
    “The demonstration projects will play an important part in establishing outcome-based grazing authorizations as a standard practice,” said Brian Steed, Deputy Director of Programs and Policy. “We will consider the success of the demonstration projects as we develop guidance for future authorizations.”
    Outcome-based grazing emphasizes conservation performance, ecological, economic and social outcomes and cooperative management of public lands. The BLM said this initiative will help demonstrate that permitted livestock grazing on public lands can operate under a less rigid framework than is commonly used in order to better reach agreed upon habitat and vegetation goals.
    For example, one of the improvements might involve giving operators the leeway to turn out cattle on young cheatgrass, while the plants are still palatable to cattle.
    http://magicvalley.com/news/local/us-land-managers-designate-grazing-projects-in-west-states/article_2791b779-4469-5f8b-9d06-798e1bf9f0c1.html#utm_source=magicvalley.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail-updates%2Fdaily-headlines%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=66C041A6DB0DAC32FE48018EC208D852193B173E

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  6. 5 Nevada ranches selected for Trump admininstration’s grazing projects
    ELKO DAILY

    “Everybody’s going to share best practices and how they work things out,” BLM Public Affairs Officer Greg Deimel told the Elko Daily Free Press.
    Other authorized projects in Nevada will be at the Willow Ranch at Battle Mountain, Smith Creek Ranch at Carson City, and John Uhalde and Company in Ely.
    The remaining projects are in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming.
    http://elkodaily.com/news/local/nevada-ranches-selected-for-trump-admininstration-s-grazing-projects/article_b3b5b7a1-ae35-5ff6-81ed-4bc24db47288.html#utm_source=elkodaily.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail-updates%2Fdaily-headlines%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=66C041A6DB0DAC32FE48018EC208D852193B173E

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