“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
― Thomas Jefferson
Welfare ranchers, ranchers who graze on Public lands, want taxpayers and wild horses off public lands, but they want taxpayer subsidies to continue and even increase, which would provide even more widespread destruction of America’s Public Lands and the continued killing of America’s Icon, the Wild Horse Herds in the United States.
Society is becoming increasingly antagonistic toward private profit-making uses of public resources, especially when those private uses require taxpayer subsidies for operation. Most often what creates a higher use of subsidies (i.e. taxpayer money) are the apparent conflicts with other goals of ecological management. The antagonistic behavior is more than reasonable.
The fact is several things play into the subsidies welfare ranchers receive – and qualify because they have a Lease/Permit to graze on America’s Public Lands – and nothing more. Corporations are now taking advantage of this situation as well. Sacrifices exist, and America’s Icons, the Wild Horse Herds, pay the price for these questionable and often illegal behaviors from both welfare ranchers and corporations. As taxpayer’s, it‘s time we ask why this situation exists!
This brings me around to another important point. It is past time for legislators to reexamine resource programs such as mining, timber harvesting, and grazing on public lands. Taxpayers need to know, then acknowledge, DOI / BLM management of our Public Lands and their methodology as well as catering to special interests, consistently fail. The cost of this failure and to all taxpayer’s of America, in the Billions-of-dollars over and above what competent management ideologies would cost when done appropriately.
Grazing and the use of America’s Public Lands
Problems that emerge from government agencies profoundly bad, for both the environment and America:
(1) Public Lands (rangeland) quality continues to deteriorate despite over a century of federal effort to protect and rehabilitate public lands. This is mostly due to bad decisions based on manipulated or misinformation, and bad data (i.e. appropriate for political or special interest groups only) collected by DOI / BLM rangeland studies (cattle no longer in BLM or DOI research or data information collection scheme, yet generate most of the destruction as well as criminal situations on Public Lands).
(2) current stewardship of public rangelands is inconsistent with multiple use management and associated directly with environmental impacts, which flourish, and worse yet, paid for by American taxpayer dollars through subsidies to welfare ranchers (i.e. ranchers who qualify to graze their cattle on Public Lands) who continue to destroy America’s Public lands and the Wild Horse Herds;
(3) grazing fees do not reflect the full social costs of providing the forage, with BLM administrative costs in the millions of dollars alone, then the subsidies to welfare ranchers, amount to billions of dollars yearly – all American-taxpayer supported, with mostly hidden agendas from the taxpayers and the American general public; and
(4) current grazing on public lands, especially of cattle, then sheep, dominate public lands. Keep in mind it is not a legal cattle or sheep count that graze on Public Lands. Nor is it the amount considered by Congress or Federal Law, because little to no oversight on the correct amount of cattle or sheep per acre exists. American taxpayers pay the Wild Horse and Burro Board, one entity of a few boards, for recommendations toward proper management of cattle versus Wild Horses on Public Lands. But in truth it is not done and the Wild Horses, and the Horse Management Areas (i.e. HMA), remain neglected, and decisions are made for special interests only, welfare ranchers only, which amount to cattle and sheep population increase, and wild horse herd roundups increase, for wild horse herd populations to decrease. This equates also to more money collected from taxpayers, from these hidden agendas and hidden population counts of all cattle, sheep, and wild horses. By the way, there is no benefit given to the taxpayers here in America for any of these supposed programs, even though billions of dollars spent yearly to pay for them, hidden in the term subsidies.
Projection for Proper Public Land Management
In my opinion American taxpayer’s should call for a decrease of cattle and sheep that graze on Public Lands; then to grazing fee increases; then to discontinue pro-industry Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grazing advisory boards, and demand the use of grazing fee receipts to finance wildlife habitat and on-site monitoring of the welfare ranchers.
The problem that has existed for years is the fact these entities participating in these antiquated and non-useful programs, go about their business unchecked, unobserved, and abide by no law or regulatory check-n-balance system.
Although there is intense disagreement over the problems of grazing on public lands and the nature of potential remedies, there is an emerging consensus that the following broad set of precepts should guide modern Public Land Management.
• Management practices for public lands should guarantee Public Lands resources will be available in sufficient quantity and quality for future generations, and not just for publicity and something that sounds good to the public — but in reality, actually do so and monitor with a proper checks-n-balance system in-place to do so. This can also replace several Special Interest Oversight Boards that the BLM currently have in place — and in reality save the American taxpayers billions of dollars yearly if accomplished.
• Management practices should assure the sustained provision of non-consumptive multiple uses such as wildlife habitat, wilderness, and recreation. This involves the re-establishment of predators, of vegetation, and prominent ecosystem re-establishment and on Public Lands. Then re-establish as priority, America’s Iconic Wild Horse Herds; whereas, the prevailing herds allowed remaining, and the Wild Horses currently held captive, be placed back onto America’s Public Lands. This situation alone will save American taxpayer’s millions of dollars yearly as well – a natural resource plan established to recognize this entire situation as a vast reserve and wilderness area, with minimal management accomplished by an agency other than the current BLM, DOI, or Forestry – agencies which have shown their responsibility lack s in regard to dispersion of taxpayer money, criminality, and working for special interest groups — rather than America– or safeguarding taxpayer money as they should do but do not.
• The federal government ought to receive a fair return when public resources are used in private profit-making enterprises, and all should be transparent within a defined system of checks-n-balance systems. This is a paradox, as there does exist laws to accomplish this, but the current government agencies ignore, and even go as far as tell the general public these laws do not exist – and yet. . .
Public subsidy to ranchers
The controversy over grazing fees may be the most heated of existing arguments. Fees for public grazing are far below lease rates for comparable private grazing lands and, in many cases, below the government cost of providing the grazing service. Ranchers precariously argue that livestock production on federal rangeland is an economically important use of public resources, and that ranching on public lands would not be viable if grazing fees were set at market value.
Alternatively, some environmental groups want cattle and sheep off the land entirely, and increased fees would help that to happen. Moreover, there is widespread support for bringing the base (forage value) fee up to private market levels, which indeed would provide a fair return to the public-owners (taxpayers) and fair competition for ranchers who have no public land access.
But the problem with all of this is the fact, a fact which is an ongoing nightmare for welfare ranchers and legislators alike, who want to keep this program hidden from public perusal.
The Reality: welfare ranchers using Public Lands for cattle, for example, makes for lousy meat and their domestic receipt of beef sales (GAO Report) in 2012 / 2013 amount to less than 1% of over-all domestic sales of beef in America – worse, export sales of beef (also GAO Report) remains at 4% or below on a yearly basis, to such countries as China, Japan, etc.
Worse still, is the fact American taxpayers pay these welfare ranchers in the Billions-of-dollars yearly to raise this same non-competitive beef for export; note here that American taxpayers receive no benefit from the subsidies paid to welfare ranchers what so ever — as a matter of fact it was estimated that American taxpayers do pay an estimated cost of $389.00 per pound of beef sold to foreign entities.
One obvious suggestion does emerge, however. We should cease attempts to discover the “fair market value” of grazing on public lands for setting the optimal grazing fee, and focus our attention on more important and productive issues.
The fact that welfare ranching, a more true definition than not, is simply those who take advantage of antiquated and non-useful programs, and laws that provide loopholes at the same time is very real. Many of the public policies and laws that should have been retired decades ago still exist – so loopholes exist. But more than that, Agriculture and welfare ranching have strong lobby groups as well as pose threats and corrosion to legislators and the general public alike. Frankly, and in reality, the use of Public Lands for grazing is nothing more than a scam, as it is not justified with legitimate information or even legitimate market references. The Public Lands meat is poor quality most often, and very much unuseful. And yet we are led to believe America needs this situation – and those that know simply look on in disbelief.
Poor stewardship of the public lands intended for multiple use is a highly significant problem. Past policy has focused, without much success, mostly on the sustainability of grazing on public lands and gave little attention to the long term viability of other uses. Unfortunately, there is not universal agreement on what constitutes acceptable grazing management in the multiple use setting of public lands. But a new focus on ecosystem management, brought on by endangered species and other environmental problems, as well as an overabundance of cattle and sheep on Public Lands, should help shape future grazing policy – But again it is questionable, as we look at heavy special interest groups and their lobby efforts, basically costing the American public billions upon billions of dollars yearly in these ineffective, antiquated, and not efficient programs.
I propose the broad outlines of a new grazing policy designed to satisfy three basic criteria: professional acceptability, long-run applicability, and public/political support. Public lands are managed for the long term multiple objectives of society employing the best possible scientific evidence and economic practice.
Thereby, livestock grazing is viewed as an acceptable public land use only if the value of grazing exceeds the costs of managing the grazing activity and protecting other public values in the land. The best way to assure this socially efficient condition is to set grazing fees equal to the imposed costs.
Long run applicability is promoted by designing the fee structure to be predictable but sufficiently flexible to satisfy multiple use needs in the face of changing bioeconomic circumstances.
A checks-n-balance system also required to develop transparency as well as keeping the Fox out of the chicken coop, so to speak – in another words keeping the welfare ranchers and government employees responsible and honest.
Public/political support is generated by ensuring that the fees collected cover the full costs of grazing administration while maintaining other public values. Ranchers would not be subsidized either directly, through budget outlays for BLM or USFS grazing programs, or indirectly, through losses of valued natural resources and environmental qualities. In other words the subsidies programs, all, should be discontinued immediately, and water rights and wells, where Permitees/Leasers had somehow received ownership and water rights (i.e. even though on Public Lands) be placed back into Public Lands ownership and responsibility.
American’s want their Public Lands back! American’s also want it managed responsibly, not criminally or irresponsibly! And that is the American Way!
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Loosening of the soil surface during drying periods (Davies 1938, Campbell 1966, Savory 1978).
Removal of excess vegetation that may negatively affect net carbohydrate fixation and increase water transpiration losses (Daubenmire and Colwell 1942, May 1960, Baker and Hunt 1961, Williams 1966, Gifford and Marshall 1973, Thorn and Koller 1974).
Incorporating mulch into the soil profile which speeds development of humus (Dyksterhuis and Schmutz 1947).
Recycling nutrients in the ecosystem and making some nutrients more available (Petersen et al. 1956, Williams 1964, Lotero et al. 1966, Barrow 1967, Weeda 1967).
Maintaining optimal leaf area index (May 1960, Jameson 1963b, Williams 1966, Brown and Blaser 1968, Ludlow and Wilson 197 1, Vickery et al. 1971, Langer 1972, Robson 1973).
Trampling seed into the ground (Davies 1938, Tanganyika Agricultural Corporation 1961).
Increased in the last 60 years (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology 1974, Wildlife Management Institute Staff 1978).
Some of this increase can be attributed to controlled grazing and range improvement projects which have resulted in the landscape supporting many stages of ecosystem development (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology 1974, Wolfe 1978).
Reducing excess accumulations of standing dead vegetation and mulch that may chemically and physically inhibit new growth (Hopkins et al. 1948, Curtis and Partch 1950, Goodman 1953, Conrad 1954, Hopkins 1954, Hopkins 1956, Glendening and Pase 1964, Young and Hulett 1968).
Inoculating plant parts with saliva, which may stimulate plant regrowth (Vittoria and Rendina 1960, Reardon et al. 1974).
Reducing fire, insect, and rodent problems resulting from vegetation accumulation (Launchbaugh 1964, Smith and Doe11 1968, Todd and Kamm 1974).