Yesterday the BLM announced that local ranchers bid $35 to $43 per AUM to graze eight parcels on withdrawn lands in southern New Mexico.
The McGregor Range covers 606,000 acres on the west side of Otero Mesa, between Alamogordo, NM and El Paso, TX, according to the news release. It was a part of Fort Bliss and supported live fire exercises with new missile systems.
Title I of FLPMA says the U.S. [shall] receive fair market value of the use of the public lands and their resources unless otherwise provided for by statute (item 9, page 8).
How does $1.35 meet that requirement? It doesn’t. How do those endeavors return the maximum benefit to the American people? They don’t. (Refer to Title IV on page 31 for remarks about grazing fees. Page 34 has the infamous helicopter roundup provision that was added to the WHB Act.)
Public-lands ranching is a gravy train. That’s what groups like Protect the Harvest and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are trying to defend—and expand.
It’s the driver of the despicable ‘Path Forward.’
Raising the grazing fee to $60 per AUM—in line with the cost of warehousing excess wild horses and burros in off-range pastures—would be a nice down payment on the goal of erasing public-lands ranching from the American landscape.
The U.S. would receive an additional $528 million annually, at least for a while, until the ranchers throw in the towel, because paying market rates just plain spoils the party.