WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ranchers may have reason to rejoice following an announcement from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Wednesday that federal grazing fees have dropped for 2019.
Previously, the grazing fee was set at $1.41. It has now been lowered to $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) for BLM lands and $1.35 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
According to the agency, AUM and HM represent equivalent measures for use of public lands by "by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month."
"The newly calculated grazing fee was determined by a congressional formula and takes effect March 1, 2019. The fee will apply to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and nearly 6,500 permits administered by the Forest Service," BLM said.
The formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has remained in use under a 1986 presidential Executive Order, according to the BLM. Under that Executive Order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM/HM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level.
“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,” said Brian Steed, BLM Deputy Director for Programs and Policy. “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.”
The grazing fee applies to public lands administered by the BLM and USFS in 16 Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Permit holders and lessees are encouraged to contact their local BLM or Forest Service office for additional information.