US western rangelands grazing fees remain at $US1.35 a month

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A horse in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
A horse in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. © USDAFS

The cost of grazing this year on federal land in the USA’s western states is unchanged from last year, with the fee again $US1.35 per head per month.

A head month is a unit the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service uses to define a month’s use of the range by a cow/calf pair, by five goats or sheep, or by a single bull, steer, heifer, horse, burro, or mule.

The grazing fee is calculated by considering the average annual change in beef cattle prices, leasing rates for grazing on private land in the western states, and the costs of livestock production.

The western states fee applies to about 6000 permits administered by the Forest Service in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and the national grasslands in Texas.

Congress established the formula used for calculating grazing fees in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act and as amended in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act. It has continued under a presidential Executive Order in 1986. Under that Executive Order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $US1.35 per head month and any change in fees cannot be more than 25% of the previous year’s level. Grazing fees apply to rangelands managed by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in addition to the USDA Forest Service.

The grazing fee is calculated based on data collected annually by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistical Service, including the average annual change in beef cattle prices, leasing rates for grazing on private land in the western states, and the costs of livestock production.

The USDA Forest Service manages about 193 million acres in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

A member of an Angus cattle herd on the Gravelly Mountain Range in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest one of the largest of the national forests in Montana, covering 3.35 million acres and throughout eight Southwest Montana counties.
A member of an Angus cattle herd on the Gravelly Mountain Range in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest one of the largest of the national forests in Montana, covering 3.35 million acres and throughout eight Southwest Montana counties. © USDA/Preston Keres

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