Skip to Content

The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Grazing Federal Lands

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In August 2022, a study was published by David T. Taylor, John A. Tanaka and Kristie A. Maczko, under the University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture, Live Sciences and Natural Resources, looking into the impacts of removing federal lands grazing in certain counties of Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming. 

Results from the study showed negative impacts of removing grazing livestock from federal lands in counties of these three states, which may have come to a surprise to radical environmentalists in the West but not to federal lands ranchers. 

Many of us know these environmentalists will never accept the results from this study, and we understand they may even try to put out misinformation to discredit the study. Hopefully instead, this study will influence a judge’s ruling as well as some politicians and federal lands management personnel. 

The purpose of this analysis, which was funded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as a contractor for the Beef Checkoff, was to estimate the economic impact of removal of federal grazing lands used by cattle ranchers on the overall three-state economy. It documented the cost of impacts to ranchers and local communities. 

The study showed the total direct impact for federal-lands-grazing-dependent cattle ranches in the three states was $652.1 million annually. About 80 percent of this impact was from cattle production, and the remainder was sales of surplus hay. 

When secondary economic impacts on other regional ag businesses were considered, the total impact on federal-lands-grazing-dependent cattle ranches in the area was $1.5 billion. We’re talking big bucks here. The $1.5 billion in total economic activity supported total employment of more than 10,000 jobs and $415.2 million in total labor income.

The results of the study show for every one dollar decrease in direct ranch sales due to a reduction in federal grazing, there is a $3.01 decrease in total economic activity throughout the state, including a $2.01 decrease in secondary impacts. 

I would imagine these numbers tell a similar story to what happened in the Northwest U.S. when the timber industry shut down due to some leaked misinformation of the spotted owl years ago. After the lumber mills shut down, many of these rural communities never recovered and the labor force moved away. 

Come to find out, the movement was actually set in motion to stop the harvesting of trees in the area, and the spotted owl was just a means to meet this goal. Now, forests in the Northwest are either burnt up or under fire danger.

It is very similar to using sage grouse and other animals to stop livestock grazing on federal lands today. Some people don’t realize the negative impacts this will have on federal lands or the loss of revenue it will cause in local communities. 

Grazing lands need managed, and what better way to do this than with proper livestock grazing to achieve our goals? 

If we need to reduce damage on federal lands, federal land managers should look into enforcing stricter regulations of all-terrain vehicles. They are currently causing a lot of damage every place they go.

A big thank you to those who develop studies like the one published by UW. They are critical in providing the public with real facts and impacts of issues concerning the agriculture industry, especially when misguided people get in our way.

Back to top