Most Americans are shocked to find out ranchers are allowed to graze their private livestock on our public lands—including deep within protected Wilderness areas—for literally pennies on the dollar.
In fact, the federal public lands grazing program is among the most wasteful, environmentally damaging, and economically inefficient uses of our public lands, costing U.S. taxpayers a whopping $110 million annually! When you consider additional direct and indirect costs, it’s estimated that the federal public lands grazing program on just national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered lands may cost as much as $500 million to $1 billion annually—all to provide only three percent of all the beef in the country.
Existing law does not allow for the retirement of grazing permits. This outdated policy has negative impacts on wildlife, watersheds, and the surrounding ecosystem, which continue to be harmed by domestic livestock grazing.
One potential solution to this problem is a piece of legislation called the Rural Economic Vitalization Act (H.R. 3624). This bill would allow federal grazing permit users to waive their grazing permit back to the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management in exchange for compensation by a third party. The associated grazing allotments would then be permanently retired from livestock grazing use.
Retiring grazing permits on America's public lands protects Wilderness, eliminates negative impacts to watersheds, native fish, wildlife, and plants, and saves tax dollars.