The Sanpete Messenger

BLM, forest service reduce livestock grazing fees

A reduction in federal grazing fees on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service could mean savings for anyone with a significant amount of livestock in Sanpete County this year.

BLM, forest service reduce livestock grazing fees


By Robert Stevens




A reduction in the federal grazing fees on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service could mean savings for Sanpete livestock growers this year.

According to the BLM, fees for 2019 will drop to $1.35 per animal unit month for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month for lands managed by the USDA Forest Service.

This represents a decrease from the 2018 grazing fee of $1.41.

“It’s not a large reduction but it could add up,” says John Keeler of Manti, former southwest regional manager of the Utah Farm Bureau. “The people who will see the most significant savings will be those with high numbers of grazing livestock.”
Keeler says the fees are adjusted each year and can go up or down

An animal unit month or head month—treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes—is the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.

The newly calculated grazing fee was determined by a congressional formula and took effect Friday, March 1, 2019.  The fee will apply to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and nearly 6,500 permits administered by the Forest Service.

According to BLM officials, the formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has remained in use under a 1986 presidential executive order.  Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level.

The annually determined grazing fee is established using a 1966 base value of $1.23 for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states.  The figure is then calculated according to three factors—current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production.  In effect, the fee rises, falls or stays the same based on market conditions.

“The BLM and Forest Service are committed to strong relationships with the ranching community and work closely with permittees to ensure public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes,” said Brian Steed, BLM Deputy Director for Programs and Policy.  “Fifty percent of the collected grazing fees deposited into the U.S. Treasury are returned to the Range Betterment Fund for on-the-ground range improvement projects. Portions of collected fees are also returned to the states for use in the counties where the fees were generated.”

The grazing fee applies in 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service.  The states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Permit holders and lessees may contact their local BLM or Forest Service office for additional information.