Grazing fees fall to $1.35 per unit

US - The cost to ranchers for grazing cattle on public land will be reduced in 2007 to $1.35 per animal unit month from the 2006 price of $1.56.
calendar icon 9 February 2007
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The $1.35 price is as low as the fee can be based upon the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act.

The new fee will become effective March 1 and affects local ranchers with grazing permits on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service land.

An animal unit month is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf for a month.

The fee is set by Congress based on an established formula taking into consideration yearly fluctuations in the cattle business. The fee was lowered to offset challenges in the industry.

"That's the lowest it can go," BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said. "It means the industry is not thriving the way it was a few years ago."

The last time grazing fees hit the low point was 2003. Since then they have risen most years, topping out at $1.79 in 2005 before dropping to $1.56 last year.

Cost of transporting cattle, fluctuations in beef prices and changes in private grazing lease rates help determine the federal grazing fee.

Nathrop rancher Jay Wilson - who has permits to graze cattle on forest service, bureau and State Land Board property - said the reduced fee will translate to significant savings this year.

"It makes the range more affordable," Wilson said. "Every little bit helps when you're dealing with the variables we have to deal with."

Source: The Mountain Mail

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