Trump government reduces grazing fees on federal public lands
The U.S. Interior Department has announced a reduction in fees for cattle and sheep that graze on federal public land.
It is now set to the minimum allowed under federal law to $1.35.
The fee is down from $1.41 a month for each cow with a calf, or five sheep or goats.
Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project said:
“These rock-bottom prices don’t even cover the cost of administering the permits, so the American taxpayers are footing the bill for a massive welfare program that degrades our public lands.
"Even with the low fees, our western mountains and basins are typically so arid or fragile that federal land managers have to sacrifice the health of the land to authorize grazing levels that are profitable for commercial livestock operations.”
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the change in fees earlier this week.
The grazing fee applies in 16 western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service.
Brian Steed, BLM Deputy Director for Programs and Policy said:
"The BLM and Forest Service are committed to strong relationships with the ranching community and work closely with permittees to ensure public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes."
"Fifty percent of the collected grazing fees deposited into the U.S. Treasury are returned to the Range Betterment Fund for on-the-ground range improvement projects. Portions of collected fees are also returned to the states for use in the counties where the fees were generated."
Costs to administer the grazing fee program exceed the money collected, resulting in taxpayer subsidies of about $100 million per year.
If the fee had kept pace with inflation, the current rate would be $9.47.