>Baker City Herald | Baker County Oregon's News Leader

Baker news NE Oregon Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

Follow BakerCityHerald.com

Baker City Herald print edition

view all Baker City Herald print publications »

The Baker City Herald is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

View Paper

If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access.

Subscribe


Recent article comments

Powered by Disqus

Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Grazing benefits

Print

Grazing benefits


The coming of the spring brings, besides the buttercups and the north wind, the debate over privately owned livestock grazing on public lands.

This dispute is revived annually when the federal government announces the year’s grazing fee.

For 2013, as in the previous six years, that charge is $1.35 per AUM — animal unit month, the amount of forage a cow and her calf will eat in a month.

Critics pounced on this announcement, pointing out that $1.35 is the lowest fee the feds can legally charge.

“It represents another huge form of subsidy to public lands ranchers who are already massively subsidized by us all,” Katie Fite, of the Western Watersheds Project in Idaho, told The Associated Press.

Maligning the welfare rancher is, of course, a popular refrain among groups that don’t care for livestock grazing regardless of how much the government charges. That minimum fee is merely a convenient focus for their disdain.

But notwithstanding the exaggeration of the slur, the repetition of that “massively subsidized” line prompted us to consider what the citizens of the U.S., who own the land where cattle graze, are getting out of the deal.

Quite a lot, actually.

Beef cattle is a $50-million-a-year business in Baker County alone. And a majority of the county’s cattle spend part of the year on public land grazing allotments.

Those public lands, then, are integral to producing products — beef, of course, but a variety of other bovine byproducts — that America consumers want.

Grazing foes lament the negative effects livestock have, including dirtying streams and spreading noxious weeds.

Fite describes this as the “exploitation” of public lands, a word with a nasty connotation that would be valid only if land once grazed was unsuitable for any purpose. This clearly is not the case, as grazing allotments support not only livestock but an array of flora and fauna, and recreation ranging from hunting to bird-watching.

Although grazing can have more noticeable effects on the land than, say, hiking, it also produces a much greater economic benefit. That’s not exploitation — it’s wise use of a resource that belongs to all of us.

Print

blog comments powered by Disqus
News
Local / Sports / Business / State / National / Obituaries / Submit News
Opinion
Editorials / Letters / Columns / Submit a letter
Features
Outdoors / Go Magazine / Milestones / Living Well
Baker Herald
About / Contact / Commercial Printing / Subscriptions / Terms of Use / Privacy Policy / Commenting Policy / Site Map
Also Online
Photo Reprints / Videos / Local Business Links / Community Links / Weather and Road Cams / RSS Feed

Follow Baker City Herald headlines on Follow Baker City Herald headlines on Twitter

© Copyright 2001 - 2014 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use