New federal grazing fee announced. No change this year, already at lowest allowed by law

Grazing formula again dictates $1.35 a month to graze a cow and a calf or 5 sheep-

A formula to set federal grazing fees designed to partially insulate grazers of federal land from the market became law in 1976. It was supposed to go up and down according to livestock prices and costs of doing business, but it was rigged in favor of costs of doing business. In 1978, $1.35 was set as the lowest possible fee for an AUM (Animal Unit Month).  Every once and a while the formula has required  higher grazing fees, but never much more.

The rock bottom fee now in force has never been adjusted for inflation. So $1.35 in 1976 is now about like 50 cents. Think about this the next time you are charged $5 or $10 to merely park your vehicle at some federal recreation site such as a trailhead.

Oh, and you can’t pay the grazing fee yourself and get the livestock removed. If this was allowed, I’d write a personal check today plus a bonus and pay the grazing fees for all the livestock grazers who pay them on the local Forest Service ranger district and get the livestock removed. I’m not a rich person. I’m merely middle class, but I have enough money in my checkbook right now to pay all of their grazing fees. They are that low — that overprivileged!

Grazing fees on public lands unchanged for 2010. Seattle Times. AP
Federal Grazing Fee Announced for 258 Million Acres: Public to Subsidize Public Land Destruction, Species Endangerment. Center for Biological Diversity.



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  1. Salle Avatar

    “The rock bottom fee now in force has never been adjusted for inflation. So $1.35 in 1976 is now about like 50 cents. Think about this the next time you are charged $5 or $10 to merely park your vehicle at some federal recreation site such as a trailhead.”

    …or buy a steak or a pound of burger, or eat at some fast food joint ~ where even if you don’t buy the burgers, that’s how they make their money, from cheap beef.

    Furthermore, I suspect that the biggest argument for doing this has to do with the cheap beef that comes from South America these days ~ where the rainforests are being destroyed to make room for cattle grazing. The competition is too much for these welfare kings.

  2. Uta stansburyiana Avatar
    Uta stansburyiana

    Same price as in 1976.
    As I recall, it went a tad higher for a couple of years, but went down again during Reagan’s office.
    I don’t think price per AUM has budged since.

    I wonder why ranchers who lease much more expensive private land are’nt up in arms about having to compete in the same marketplace as the subsidized federal permittees.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I wonder why those not so favored aren’t upset either, but I’ll guess it is because the livestock associations are filled and staffed by favored old-timers.

    I don’t think a new person who buys some cattle usually goes out and joins the Idaho Cattle Association.

  4. vickif Avatar

    Disgusting, seriously. I pay more to feed my dogs. I pay more on the txes for the damn dog food. Maybe the people responsible need to go wade through the cow crud, or better yet, maybe they can clean it, or miraculously heal the habitat they destroy for pocket change.

  5. JimT Avatar

    What is worse, Vickif, is that it is YOUR money, and YOUR choice to spend it that way.You have control,

    This is corporate welfare at its worst. The only current Federal fee and tax structure I can think of that is worse is the Mining Law of 1872.

    As I recall, Babbitt tried to up the grazing fees to a reasonable level, and just got tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail by his fellow ranchers.

    Does anyone have figures on what the AUM is on private lands?

    1. Bob Nuzum Avatar
      Bob Nuzum

      It was a little over $18.00 for 2009. We won’t know until June what it will be for 2010 (based on the federal Market News Service data for June for feeder steers and heifers in the 500-600 pound range).

  6. JimT Avatar

    Sounds like a book worth having on your shelves as well. I agree wholeheartedly that public lands ranching needs to stop, but hoping that the current generation of ranchers, when they die out, will lead to better practices until that happens is wishful thinking since corporate ownership plays such a large part in public land ranching..and as we all know, corporations never die, unlike people. They just go bankrupt and then re-emerge like the phoenix from the flame, new and free to do more harm..;*) that corporations have the same free speech rights as live humans, I wonder if they can now hold office as well…native born is no problem, although most will show Delaware residency, age..again not an issue. No requirement that you ever have to vote in your life.

    BARBEE Ranch for Governor…I can see it now…;*)

  7. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I believe grazing on private land varies quite a bit from area to area or state to state, but for example in Iowa in 2007, it can go from a low of $18 per AUM/month to a high of $37 per AUM /month, and also varies some what from winter to summer.
    Pretty easy to find this information.

  8. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    One thing that has always made me curious is why livestock producers from other states don’t scream about the unfair competition from subsidized producers in the western states.

  9. Jay Avatar

    The most recent numbers I could find were 6.1 million dollars deposited to the Federal treasury from revenue collected for public grazing fees (1.6 from USFS, 4.5 from BLM). This is a complete joke–it doesn’t come anywhere close to even paying for the administration of the program, let alone any kind of improvements that should be funded by the users. As it is, any fixes needed due to degradation of the range fall on the backs of you and I, rather than Joe rancher, who is paying a few hundred bucks to let his cattle trample the land for essentially free.

  10. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    The ranchers do what all businesses do when they benefit from special deals with the federal or state governments. They share some of their subsidy money with their favorite Senator or Representative in the form of campaign contributions. It is a form of legalized bribery. The wool-growers return some of their wool subsidies to politicians and the cattle industry returns some of the money they save by getting welfare range fees as well. We have the best government that money can buy.

  11. mikarooni Avatar

    It’s become a kleptocracy. People blame the lawyers for all our ills; the lawyers are just cleaning up the carcasses. The real problem is the business schools. Talk about no product; all the business schools teach is how to most efficiently open up arteries and slurp it up.

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    This is a great video in general about the effects of the recent Supreme Court decision.

    I know Jackie (my spouse) just put it up on her Facebook page.

  13. Salle Avatar

    I found it on the Real News Network website. I just couldn’t resist sharing it.

  14. Nathan Hobbs Avatar
    Nathan Hobbs

    You would think with the pending freeze of Congressional funding that land agencies would be interested in digging deeper into this potential source of funding. Even if they doubled or tripled the rate it would be well below the average private land AUM cost.

    However it seems our parking and camping expenses will continue to get more and more expensive further distancing the public from these areas and empowering the nobility. In an effort to gather more funding they are looking into discontinuing the Golden Age passport. Expect other price increases and hidden fees to pop up in the future.

  15. Jason Avatar

    Here is some funny reading on how one hunter thinks grazing benefits wildlife

  16. JimT Avatar

    Nathan, as bad as the federal subsidized AUM fee is, the lack of royalties charged under the Mining Law of 1872 is far worse in terms of how much the federal taxpayer and owner of these lands is getting screwed. And a large percentage of these mining groups are foreign entities, which kind of makes it stick in my craw just a tad bit more.

    If one could just sell Obama on the idea that changes to the AUM and mining fees are economic, not environmental, perhaps he would listen…and risk ticking off folks who won’t vote for him anyway….there’s the rub.

  17. Nathan Hobbs Avatar

    Agreed JimT,
    So many issues in need of change!
    I have been enjoying a text for a Class at ISU by Charles F. Wilkinson “Crossing the Next Meridian”
    In which he describes the Five Lords of Yesterday. the 1872 mining act listed foremost on that list.


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Ralph Maughan