Source:  THE DAILY PITCHFORK

Report analyzes taxpayer bailout of U.S. public lands ranching [Part II of a series on ranchers]

by Vickery Eckhoff

Cliven-Bundy-on-Horseback-e1423775080754-620x264 Public lands livestock operators each cost taxpayers nearly a quarter of a million dollars in subsidies over the last decade. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)

Five hundred million dollars[1]. That’s what 21,000[2] ranchers who graze their livestock on America’s iconic western rangelands are estimated to have cost US taxpayers in 2014 — and every year for the past decade. This averages out to an annual taxpayer subsidy of $23,809 per rancher — approximately a quarter of a million dollars each since 2005. So why does this small subset, representing just 2.7% of US livestock producers, protest the “welfare rancher” label?

 The public lands grazing program is welfare.

That $23,809 — and it’s a lowball figure — is a form of public assistance similar to other welfare programs. The only difference is, it doesn’t arrive as a check in the mail. It instead represents a loss covered by taxpayers: the very large difference between what public lands ranchers pay in fees to the US government and what public lands grazing costs taxpayers every year. But it’s still a subsidy, as a newly updated economic analysis, Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands, makes clear. And the recipients aren’t low income; a large number are millionaires and some are billionaires and multi-billion dollar corporations. Cattle barons, if you will.

Public lands ranching costs western ecosystems, wildlife and taxpayers.

“Several federal agencies permit livestock grazing on public lands in the United States, the largest being the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Agriculture’s United States Forest Service (USFS).

The vast majority of livestock grazing on BLM and USFS rangelands occurs in the 11 western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Rangelands are non-irrigated and generally have vegetation that consists mostly of grasses, herbs and/or shrubs. They are different from pastureland, which may periodically be planted, fertilized, mowed or irrigated.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

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