Economic Debate

What are the Costs and Benefits of Public Grazing Programs?
Many critics of public lands livestock grazing argue that the government unjustly subsidizes ranchers through low grazing fees and money losing management programs. Proponents of public grazing counter that ranchers already paid full value for the forage when they purchased their ranches, that direct comparisons with private range lease rates are difficult if not impossible, and that grazing permittees receive far fewer subsidies than the average citizen. Still for many people the question is no longer whether permittees should pay more, but rather how much more they should pay. A second debate turns on the importance of ranching to local and regional economies. Supporters of public grazing programs emphasize that they provide jobs and income to remote areas where economic opportunities are few and that eliminating public lands grazing would devastate these communities and destabilize the livestock industry as a whole. Opponents argue that these economies are rapidly changing and that the importance of ranching is overstated. Often these opposing camps are speaking past each other about different scales of impact. Read carefully and judge for yourself.

Are ranchers paying fair market value to graze public land?

Should grazing fees be increased?

How important are ranching operations to rural economies?

  • Cohesion, Integration, and Attachment Owyhee County Communities: How social change occurs is an important consideration when analyzing the effects of public land management policies on rural communities. This paper utilizes data from a recent study in Owyhee County, Idaho, to explore the combination of social attributes that contribute to community attitudes of cohesion, integration, and attachment in a set of rural communities.