The federal government sells about 12 million AUMs per year to public-lands ranchers, across 155 million acres, mostly in the western U.S.
That transaction generates about $16 million per year in revenue for the government, which manages those lands—supposedly—for the benefit of the American people.
How much of that income is produced in areas identified for wild horses and burros?
One way to answer the question is to scale the revenue according to acreage.
The management plans assign 27 million acres to horses and burros, approximately 17% of the land authorized for grazing. The estimated revenue would be .17 × 16 = $2.7 million per year.
Another approach would be to consider the resource allocations in areas designated for wild horses and burros, where the plans allow 27,000 of them. Data reviewed on these pages suggest that livestock receive eighty to eighty five percent of the forage, excluding wildlife. That means they receive four to five times as much as the horses and burros.
If that’s true in other areas, the forage assigned to livestock in areas identified for horses and burros would be 27,000 × 12 × 5 = 1.6 million AUMs per year, worth $2.2 million per year at current prices.
Not much of an offset for the tens of millions of dollars spent every year—confiscated from American wage earners—to remove and warehouse the horses and burros, so the ranchers can enjoy more of what their allotments have to offer.
The major economic benefit accrues at harvest time. Of course, those revenues stay with the ranchers and their overlords, not the American people.
It’s redistribution of wealth, classic socialism. That’s what the farm bureaus, stockgrower’s associations and cattlemen’s groups are trying to defend.