The Federal grazing fee for Western public lands managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management will be $1.56 per animal unit month (AUM) in 2006, down from $1.79 in 2005. The newly adjusted fee, determined by a congressional formula and effective on March 1, applies to more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest Service and nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM.
The formula used for calculating the grazing fee, established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level. An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.
The annually adjusted grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then adjusted according to three factors – current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. Based on this formula, the 2006 fee declined primarily because of an increase in production prices.
The $1.56 per AUM grazing fee applies to 16 Western states on public lands administered by the Forest Service and BLM. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The Forest Service applies different grazing fees to national grasslands and to lands under its management in the Eastern and Midwestern states and parts of Texas. The national grassland fee will be $1.73 per AUM, down from $1.90 in 2005, and will also take effect March 1. The fee for the Eastern and Midwestern states and parts of Texas will be out later this month.
The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages 193 million acres of Federal lands in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land – 261 million surface acres – than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western states, including Alaska.