JACKSON, Wyo. — The grazing fee won’t change this year for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service land, the federal organization announced today.
It’s good news for cattle ranchers — the fee is set at $1.35 per animal per month (AUM), which is the minimum allowed by federal law. But some conservationists bemoan the low price measured against what they see as a high environmental cost of grazing.
A press release from the Western Watersheds Project called the announcement subsidized destruction of the American West.
“The absurdly low fee paid by commercial beef cattle producers to graze public lands flies in the face of this Administration’s commitments to conservation, biodiversity and addressing the impacts of climate change,” Josh Osher, public policy director for Western Watersheds Project, said in a press release. “It’s a great deal for the beef industry, but it’s a horrible deal for the American public because of the compounded costs of plant and animal extinction, fouled waterways, increased risks of wildfire, ongoing predator killing, and the irreplaceable cultural resources being trampled to bits.”
The grazing fee is based on a temporary formula set in 1978 and continued through Executive Order in 1986, according to the BLM. The fee was $2.31 per AUM in 1981, the highest fee ever charged. Lease rates for private pastureland in the Western U.S. average over $20 per AUM.
In its own release, BLM said it is “committed to strong relationships with the ranching community” and will work closely with rangers “to ensure public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes.”
Wyoming is one of 16 Western states that leases grazing permits from the federal government.