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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grazing Fees: Overview and Issues

Carol Hardy Vincent
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Charging fees for grazing private livestock on federal lands is a long-standing but contentious practice. Generally, livestock producers who use federal lands want to keep fees low, while conservation groups and others believe fees should be increased. The formula for determining the grazing fee for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS) uses a base value adjusted annually by the lease rates for grazing on private lands, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. Currently, the BLM and FS are charging a grazing fee of $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM). For fee purposes, an AUM is defined as a month’s use and occupancy of the range by one animal unit. The fee is in effect through February 28, 2014. The collected fees are divided among the Treasury, states, and federal agencies. Fee reform was attempted but not adopted in the 1990s.

Issues for the 113
th Congress include whether to retain the current grazing fee or alter the charges for grazing on federal lands, for instance, through an Administration proposal for an additional administrative fee of $1 per AUM. Congress also is evaluating proposals (e.g., H.R. 145, Section 102(e); H.R. 1187, Section 129; and S. 354, Section 5) to end grazing on particular allotments through the voluntary waiver of the permits and the subsequent closure of the related allotments to grazing. Another set of issues involves expiring grazing permits. These issues include whether to (1) continue to automatically renew expiring grazing permits until the permit renewal process is completed, (2) categorically exclude certain permit decisions from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, and/or (3) extend the general duration of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years. Such provisions have been included in House and Senate companion bills (H.R. 657 and S. 258).

Date of Report: May 6, 2013
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: RS21232
Price: $29.95

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